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Officials approve network of Southern California marine reserves [Updated]

December 16, 2010 |  9:30 am

An angler casts into the Pacific off Orange County.

The California Fish and Game Commission approved a plan Wednesday that will restrict or ban fishing along the Southern California coastline from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The 3-2 vote by the commission will limit fishing in more than 350 square miles of ocean waters -- about 15% of the Southern California coast -- and will likely take effect sometime in 2011.

[Updated at 11 a.m.: A map of the decisions made Wednesday can be viewed at www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/pdfs/scmpas121510.pdf]

The regulations come more than a decade after the Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act in 1999, which requires the state to reevaluate and redesign California's system of marine protected areas, or reserves.

Wednesday's vote was the final approval after two years of heated debates between conservation groups pushing for strict curbs on fishing to preserve marine habitat and recreational anglers and commercial fishing groups working to protect ocean access.

Times staff writer Tony Barboza was in Santa Barbara covering Wednesday's vote. His full article can be read here: State adopts network of protected marine areas

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: An angler casts into the Pacific off Orange County. Credit: Christina House / For The Times