Paul Wellman (file)

No-Otter Zone Officially Ended

As expected, the quarter century-old plan to protect sea otters north of Point Conception while mandating that they be moved to San Nicolas Island upon entering the Santa Barbara Channel came to an end this week when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officially ended the “Southern Sea Otter Translocation Program” on Tuesday.

The move, which extends federal threatened species protections to otters everywhere, was widely praised by otter advocates, including The Otter Project and the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center, which sued the federal government to get this change made.

Commercial fishermen, meanwhile, fear that the otters’ voracious appetite will harm their livelihoods, a concern echoed by the federal assessment that the shellfish industry may no longer be viable along the mainland coast as otters extend toward Carpinteria and beyond.

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