California has outlawed or limited fishing in more than 15 percent of its coastal waters, earning accolades as the first state to form a comprehensive network of marine sanctuaries.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the state has designated 27 Marine Protected Areas totaling 137 square miles of coastline scattered between Mexico and Oregon. The project is the fruit of more than a decade of efforts aimed at replenishing declining fish populations.

While some anglers have criticized the marine sanctuary network as too restrictive, environmentalists across the state have praised it as a win for marine life.

California began setting aside portions of its coastal waters for various levels of protection in 1999, according to the newspaper. The final addition to the network of protected waters, approved this week by state wildlife officials, is located on the state‚Äôs northern coast.

“We are going to reap the benefits of this for many years to come,” Fish and Game Commission Vice President Michael Sutton told the LA Times.

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