By JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press
December 9, 2009
The California Fish and Game Commission has begun hearing a hotly debated proposal for protecting ocean life and habitat along the state's south coast.
A task force on Wednesday presented the commission the preferred alternative it developed after 18 months of listening to diverse interests including fishermen, marina operators, environmentalists and scientists.
The commissioners have also heard passionate testimony from ocean users who believe some of the proposed reserves and conservation areas will harm business and put people out of work.
Commission Vice President Richard Rogers says a decision is months away.
California's 1999 Marine Life Protection Act requires development of science-based protected areas but the task force says it has taken socioeconomic factors into consideration.