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Study: California ocean protection zones helping fish

SAN FRANCISCO — A five-year scientific assessment of California's first marine protection zones established off the Central Coast has found that some struggling fish species are showing early signs of recovery, officials said on Thursday.

Joined by scientists and state wildlife officials, California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird called the research promising, saying the data appear to show Marine Protected Areas are furthering conservation and benefiting the fishing industry's long-term outlook.

California implemented a patchwork of zones stretching from the Mexico to the Oregon border where fishing is banned or restricted. The first collection established in 2007 stretches from San Mateo to Santa Barbara counties, and was the target of this in-depth study.

The areas are located next to fishing grounds, and are meant to give species an off-limits fishing zone where they can recover and reproduce to help replenish sea life.

The study found increases in economically important fish species that live in kelp forests, like lingcod and black rockfish, in the protected zones as compared with similar areas outside of them.


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