NRDC: Help protect marine life along California’s central coast

December 4th, 2006 4:51 pm by Kelly Garbato

Via the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Help protect marine life along California’s central coast

In 1999 California passed the Marine Life Protection Act, the first law of its kind in the country. The act requires the state to improve the way it protects its coastal waters and marine life. After two failed attempts to implement the law, the Fish and Game Commission is now poised to adopt a network of protected areas along California’s central coast, a region from Half Moon Bay to Point Conception. This region contains some of the most remote areas of the coast, such as Big Sur, the deep Monterey Canyon, elephant seal rookeries at Point Ano Nuevo, kelp forests and near-shore rocky reefs.

In August the commission announced its “preferred alternative” — a network of underwater parks and wilderness sites covering 18 percent of California’s central coast. Of the overall area of more than 200 square miles, eight percent would be fully protected marine reserves, 10 percent would allow limited fishing and the remaining area of the coast would remain open.

The proposed network is the product of an unprecedented partnership of the state and local fishermen, business owners and residents, involving more than 100 hours of public input, scientific review and economic analysis. Weakening the network now would undermine that process and could leave key habitats and species without safe havens. But industry is pressuring the commission to make the network even smaller.

The commission will adopt a final proposal at its March 1 meeting, and is accepting public comments through February 23rd.

Sample letter here.

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