State and federal officials have recommended that 26% of the waters around the Channel Islands be declared no-fishing zones.
That falls just short of the 30% to 50% recommended by a panel of scientists, but is more than double the amount sport fishermen prefer.
Officials for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the state Department of Fish and Game said they based their recommendation on two competing proposals that came from two years of meetings with the interested parties.
"It's a subtle shift from communities taking the lead to agencies taking the lead," said Matt Pickett, director of the sanctuary.
The Fish and Game Commission is expected to begin considering its final ruling at the end of August.