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Hoping to Land a Big Fish Tale out of CA Oceans

September 21, 2007

Monterey, CA - California is trying to reel in the state's declining fishing industry. A network of marine protected areas along the central coast goes into effect today, in hopes it will lead to more fish, and bigger fish. Leon Panetta is the co-chair of the Joint Oceans Initiative, a group that studied at the dwindling fishing industry coast-to-coast and made recommendations.

"We've lost 90 percent of the big fish in the ocean, fisheries that are being destroyed on the East Coast, the Gulf Coast, or the West Coast."

Panetta says some species of fish are being caught so quickly they don't have the time to mature and reproduce, and marine protected areas give them a fighting chance to survive. The new protection zones are required by the state's "Marine Life Protection Act."

Panetta uses his hometown of Monterey as an example of the problem; he explains it used to be the "sardine capital of the world," but over-fishing gutted the industry. He says other coastal towns also need the economic boost that would result from restored fisheries.

"The only way we're going to do it is by developing a sustainable fishery, one that can not only be there for our generation, but for future generations as well."

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - CA