|Feds OK limited ban on trawl fishing off West Coast
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES - Federal fishery regulators imposed a permanent ban Wednesday on trawl fishing in nearly 150,000 square miles of federal waters off the West Coast.
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In making the decision, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rejected a proposal crafted by environmentalists and the fishing industry that would have covered twice as much area.
The agency also decided against listing 13 oil derricks within the waters as "habitat areas of particular concern," a designation that might have slowed efforts by some environmentalists and coastal residents to have the structures removed.
Wednesday's action was spurred by a lawsuit by environmental groups that accused the federal government of mismanaging fish habitat.
Janis Searles, a senior counsel for Oceana, one of the groups, said she was glad the derricks weren't granted special protection but disappointed the trawling ban didn't cover a wider area.
"It's a bittersweet decision," she said.
Defenders of the platforms said millions of fish have adopted the derricks as habitat and could die if the structures were removed.
The new regulations cover federal waters that extend from three miles to 200 miles off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.
Trawl fishing is already limited in California state waters and banned in Washington waters. Other types of fishing are allowed in the no-trawl zones.