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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The San Diego–La Jolla Ecological Reserve: Implications for the Design and Management of Marine Reserves


The kelp forests of California are an important habitat for many species of economically important fish and invertebrates. There has been an alarming downward trend for many of these species over the last two decades to the extent that the kelp forests resemble ghost towns. It is becoming increasingly apparent that these so-called “ghost-forests” are in need of protection. In response to this downward trend in marine populations off California, the state legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act in 1999. This Act mandates the establishment of a network of marine reserves to reverse these declines. Unfortunately, political pressure based on the dearth of focused science has impeded implementation of the law.

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