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June 30, 2011

Tijuana River Mouth Marine Protected Area Status Goes into Effect Oct. 1

By Khari Johnson, published on Imperial Beach Patch June 29, 2011

The California Fish and Game Commission voted Wednesday for newly selected protected area's status to go into effect Oct. 1.

Last December, the Commission voted to declare the Tijuana River mouth State Marine Conservation Area and 35 other southern California biodiversity hotspots protected areas where there are limits on fishing and what can be taken from the area.

The selected areas were determined after a two-year process involving the government, scientists, the environmental community and business organizations.

New Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were added to land already protected by the state as part of reforms required by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) which requires more preservation of marine life and fisheries.

The move will double the amount of land or sea currently under MLPA protection, said Fish and Game officials, but would leave 90 percent of the coast open to fishers.

Fishing or taking any living marine resources is prohibited in marine protected areas but restrictions vary from place to place. In Imperial Beach, the MPA allows commercial fishing with a round haul net and taking pelagic fish with a hand-held dip net, except for market squid.

Restrictions in other parts of the county may impact San Diego's fishing industry up to 15 percent, according to an analysis by the company Ecotrust.

Three of five California regions have gone through the same process. Similar plans are expected to conclude in northern California later this year and in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012.

To learn more about MLPA protected areas visit the California Department of Fish and Game website.