California will create nation’s most ambitious marine-protection program

California wildlife officials voted this week to create 15 distinct marine reserves from Half Moon Bay to Santa Barbara, making about 110 square miles of ocean off-limits to most human activity and giving another 94 square miles or so protection of varying degrees. Backers hope the plan will provide important habitat protection for marine life and give a kick in the, um, fins to a lagging rockfish population. The proposal, an attempt to placate both environmentalists and fisherfolk, took seven years to hash out. And, of course, few are completely pleased — anglers feel shut out of some prime fishing grounds, while some greens argue that the protected area should be extended and include a ban on squid and salmon fishing. Wildlife commissioner Bob Hattoy called the proposal “a compromise of a compromise,” saying, “We had a chance to be historic tonight, and all we were was adequate.” Depressingly, the “adequate” proposal is the most ambitious marine-conservation program in the nation.