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CA Pier Anglers Cast Their Vote For MPAs

December 9, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A Governor's Task Force will present its recommendation to the State Fish and Game Commission today for a system of marine reserves that will dot the coast from Santa Barbara to the Mexico border.

Boun Prasert has been fishing off California's piers for most of his adult life. As a volunteer with the group Heal the Bay, he surveyed more than 3,000 other fishermen and discovered the majority support the underwater parks. He says they believe they will all benefit from more and bigger fish, once the protected areas start working.

"Eighty-five percent of them said that they catch less than before, and 85 percent of them also said that they're catching smaller-size fish than they used to catch before."

Boun believes it is important that his fellow anglers consider the big picture, and the probability that marine reserves will help the underwater ecosystem in the long run.

"And not look at it as how it's affecting them personally, but how it affects all of us, as people."

The compromise plan includes protections for places like south La Jolla, Point Dume, and Naples Reef, while leaving nearly 90 percent of the coast open for fishing, including all pier fishing. Some critics of the MPA system say it prohibits fishing in too much of the ocean. The Fish and Game Commission is expected to make a final decision early next year.

More information about MPAs is online at www.caloceans.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA