A federal judge sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision in 2012 to shut down its congressionally mandated yet unsuccessful program to capture and relocate sea otters that swim into Southern California waters. Commercial fishermen, who harvest shellfish that otters eat, had sued to keep the program alive, in part because it afforded them a layer of immunity if they accidentally harmed the federally protected marine mammal. In her ruling, however, Judge Dolly Gee also “agreed that government action [to abandon the program] had harmed the fishermen’s interest in the fishery,” according to Pacific Legal Foundation’s Jonathan Wood, representing fishermen. “That clears the way for fishermen to pursue their arguments on appeal.”


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