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State Commission Casts Yes Vote For New Underwater Parks

August 6, 2009

Sacramento, CA - The California Fish and Game Commission has voted to adopt a compromise plan to expand its statewide network of marine protected areas, often called "underwater Yosemites." The plan will protect 18 ocean habitats between Santa Cruz and Mendocino.

Samantha Murray, manager of pacific ecosystems for the Ocean Conservancy, says this will help protect the coast for generations to come.

"Just like we've been protecting Yosemite or Redwoods National Park, we're finally starting to do that 100 years later in the water. What we know about marine protected areas from around the world is that they really work."

Murray, who was a key architect of the compromise proposal, says the plan is a culmination of two and a half years of work on all sides.

"It's the product of 40-plus stakeholders, from fishermen, to divers, conservationists, and seafood consumers, saying 'Let's roll up our sleeves and let's do this together.'"

At Wednesday's hearing, a group of marine scientists and conservationists cited concerns about the decline of fisheries and overall ocean health. A recent study in the magazine Science found some of the world's fisheries, including some in California, are recovering from overfishing, with marine protected areas being a key conservation tool. Many fishermen believe the new preserves will close too much of the ocean to fishing and game wardens have suggested the state doesn't have the resources to protect them.

More information is available at

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA