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December 17, 2010

Underwater Parks Approved for Southern California Coast

WiLDCOAST Program Manager Marcela Gutierrez is interviewed by Public News Service about CA's new MPAs
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Image provided by Dana Roeber Murray

Underwater Parks Approved for Southern California Coast

December 16, 2010
Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The southern California coastline is getting some underwater protection. The state Fish and Game Commission voted late Wednesday to approve a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that will stretch from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border.

Marcela Gutierrez with WiLDCOAST says a variety of groups and the public have been working for two years on plans to create the underwater parks.

"This is a trailblazing effort. It's one of the first of its kind in the world. The whole conservation community is watching, and it's great for our coastal oceans going forward."

Gutierrez says the MPAs ultimately will become fish nurseries that will benefit fishermen.

"They basically spill over, and then you have this phenomenon, which we've had already in the Channel Islands. People are already fishing the line because they know these are the areas where fish are more abundant."

The compromise plan approved by the Fish and Game Commission will protect sea life and habitats at biodiversity hot spots, Gutierrez says, while leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing.

Gutierrez points out that a healthy ocean and the recreational uses it supports are a major economic engine for California. According to a recent study, more than 90 percent of coastal recreation in southern California is non-consumptive, and the area generates $22 billion in revenue and more than 350,000 jobs each year.

Click here to listen to the interview.