It sounds strange, but it's true—there are parts of the California coast where sea otters are forbidden.
In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared part of the Southern California coast a "no-otter" zone in order to protect fishing and other commercial interests.
The establishment of the "no-otter" zone has led to unnecessary harm and death for the threatened sea otter, and it's time for this senseless practice to stop. Please join me in telling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to shut down the "no-otter" zone.
Sea otters historically populated the entire California coast but were hunted to near extinction by the early 1900s. Protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1977, the sea otter population began to grow but was isolated to the Central California coast.
Recently, sea otters have been moving south and are being spotted off Santa Barbara beaches to the delight of locals and visitors. Sea otters are slowly repopulating their home range, and pups are being reared in places where otters haven't been seen for decades.
However, once otters swim into the "no-otter" zone, they are no longer fully protected by the Endangered Species Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act as they are elsewhere. We've heard about sea otters in the "no-otter" zone being harassed, threatened, and even shot and killed.
It's critical that the "no-otter" zone be shut down so that all California sea otters receive the full protection of the law. Without these protections, this iconic species will not be able to continue its recovery.