Help protect the 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.

== What to do == Send a message, before the February 23rd comment deadline, urging the Fish and Game Commission to adopt the proposed network of marine protected areas for the central coast.

== Contact information == You can send a message to the commission directly from NRDC's Earth Action Center at //www.nrdc.org/action or use the contact information and sample letter below to send your own message.

John Carlson, Executive Director California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street Sacramento, CA 95814 Fax: 916-653-5040 Email: fgc@fgc.ca.gov

== Sample letter ==

Subject: Adopt the proposed marine reserve network for the central coast

Dear Mr. Carlson and members of the commission,

California's coast defines the state, and all of us who live, work and play here have a responsibility to see that our coastal waters thrive for future generations. This is why I support the commission's proposed regulations for marine protected areas along the central coast.

Marine reserves are an investment in the future health of our coastal waters. Scientific studies confirm that these areas harbor more and bigger fish and support a greater diversity of life than fished areas. With the oceans facing serious problems from years of abuse, California has the chance to take real action to help restore them.

The commission's proposed regulations account for the needs of fishermen by leaving more than 80 percent of the region open to fishing. The divers, scientists, teachers, fishermen, local business owners and central coast residents who participated in this process asked for more protection than the commission has proposed; the state certainly deserves no less.

We are facing a new era where we manage oceans for their long-term health, not just our short-term needs; in the end, when we protect the ocean, we all benefit. I urge you to adopt the proposed network of marine protected areas for the central coast and expand it along the rest of the coast as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

[Your name and address]


From California Activist Network Action Alert, 12/4/06

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