Vote expected on California ocean preserves

An unexpected layer of political drama has been added to the controversy over 30 proposed ocean preserves off the California coast: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday added a voting member to the commission that will decide the fate of the preserves.

The plan to protect 153 square miles of ocean habitat between Santa Cruz and Mendocino has been in the works for two years. A final vote on the preserves is due today, at the California Fish and Game Commission meeting in Woodland.

Many fishermen believe the new preserves are too much for a state in financial turmoil. Conservationists call it a rare chance to protect the coast for future generations.

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