A Giant Swath of Ocean off California’s Coast Could Get New Protections

What’s the best way to protect coral reefs and underwater sponge gardens from being damaged by fishing gear? Ban bottom trawling from a huge swath of ocean off of Southern California….

…The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s proposed ban would put almost the entire coast of Southern California, between Point Conception and the Mexico border up to 200 miles off shore, off limits to bottom-trawl fishing. It’s meant to prevent the kind of ecological and habitat damage that corals and sponges have experienced further up the coast.

The proposed ban also gives scientists a chance to make new discoveries in an untouched ocean wilderness.

“We don’t even really know what’s down there!”, said Tom Ford, the head of The Bay Foundation. “The ocean is difficult to explore, and it’s expensive.”…