SANTA MONICA BAY : Group Proposes Restoring Sea Life to Attract Tourism

A Santa Catalina Island consortium has proposed replenishing ocean life in Santa Monica Bay by declaring it the country's first marine "economic enterprise zone."

Catalina Island Conservancy and the island Chamber of Commerce want to restock fish, squid, abalone and other marine species that have been depleted by overfishing and killed off by high levels of DDT in the water. If sea life were replenished, the area would draw more tourists, officials said.

The groups laid out the proposal for Assistant Interior Secretary George Frampton and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Marina del Rey) during a recent tour of the island.

"Tourism is a clean, renewable resource . . . and it has only declined because what people have been coming here for has been depleted," resident Randall Bombard told them.

Frampton said the timing for such a project is good because of high public awareness of the reduction or extinction of marine species.

"I have suggested that the federal government might focus its 1996 budget on rivers, fisheries, coastal and estuary restoration," Frampton said. "There are opportunities here if we can develop strategies for governments to work together in a way that hasn't been done before."

Said Harman: "It makes all the sense in the world to find a plan with community and government support to restore and regenerate marine resources, starting with all the food fish eat--the kelp beds--and moving up to the fish and other species that used to be here."

Catalina Conservancy President Chuck Olson said it is not clear whether the bay can recover. "I've never seen an ecosystem so devastated as the water here," he said.

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