As expected, Gov. Pete Wilson this week signed legislation authorizing a vessel-tracking service for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, clearing the way for the country's first major ship-monitoring system in private hands.
The tracking system will be operated by the Marine Exchange, a nonprofit agency controlled by the shipping industry, but will have to be certified by the Coast Guard and a state oil spill prevention administrator.
The exchange already provides vessel tracking within a limited area outside the federal breakwater for ships that request the service. But under the legislation signed by Wilson, ships within 20 nautical miles of Point Fermin Light will be required to maintain contact with the exchange and also to finance the service by paying an as-yet-undetermined port fee.