A twist in the settlement between Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has upset commercial fishers. However, the water board staff says the new marine mitigation proposed off the coast of Diablo Canyon may not affect fishing at all, or to a lesser extent than perceived. The issue stems from a settlement four years ago over the nuclear plant?s cooling system, which has a propensity to suck up and mince marine life and then spew out water 22 degrees warmer. The heated wastewater kills plants and affects fish and other tidal populations. In 2000, PG&E agreed to a deal worth $6 million to mitigate the problem. That included monitoring, research, a laboratory, and cash, according to water quality board environmental engineer Michael Thomas. But last year, the board asked whether it would be preferable to use settlement funds for other mitigation proposals?including creating a string of marine preserves and parks and building artificial reefs. Late last week, the water board got an update from its staff on what an alternative mitigation deal would entail. A string of marine protected areas stretching 100 miles along the coast would include the 5.7 miles associated with the nuclear plant. Staff proposed various levels of protection, including parks and preserves. That raised fishers? anxiety because putting the tidal lands aside as ?reserves? would prohibit fishing in the areas designated for the higher standard. It could have other effects on fishing in parks and preserves. Staff are still working on a California Environmental Quality Act?like report to the board on impacts, which will cost more than the PG&E settlement, but less than $10 million, according to Thomas. The board is set to consider the new twists in the settlement this summer but is not expected to make a final decision until late 2004.