15 June 2012, 09:05 BST
By Jennifer Savage
California made history today when the Fish and Game Commission voted to adopt a network of Marine Protected Areas for northern California. The vote marks the completion of the United States' first statewide network of underwater parks, protecting California's most iconic coastal waters and sea life, from rockfish and razor clams to Steller sea lions and shorebirds.
In Eureka, where the hearing was held, tribal leaders and conservationists celebrated the announcement.
"We can thank north coast solidarity for this remarkable achievement," said Bill Lemos, a retired schoolteacher and fisherman. "People came together to protect one of the most productive ocean regions on the planet."
The unified plan for marine protected areas that Fish and Game adopted was created by local fishermen, divers, tribes, business owners and conservationists. "After years of debate, people put their differences aside and focused on what we all agree on," said Jennifer Savage, North Coast Coordinator, Pacific Programs at Ocean Conservancy. "We agreed we need to act now to protect the ocean health that's at the heart of our local economy and identity, whether we're business owners, fishermen, birdwatchers or just love this wild coast."
The protected areas were created through the landmark Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) of 1999. Over the last eight years, conservationists, business owners, scientists, tribes, fishermen, recreational ocean users and government officials met up and down the coast to collaboratively design the network. It is one of the largest, most public natural resource management initiatives ever undertaken.
Special North Coast places that will be protected include:
Source: Red, Green and Blue