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H.R. 4043 moves to House floor for vote

May 18, 2012
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H.R. 4043 strips federal protections for sea otters in Southern California.

An edited version of a bill that would have detrimental effects on sea otters has passed the Natural Resources Committee and is now headed to the House floor for a vote as an amendment to H.R. 4310, the Defense Authorization Act.

The bill, called H.R. 4043 and originally introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R – Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties), is worded differently than the original version that was introduced back in February. Friends of the Sea Otter and our partners, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Defenders of Wildlife, succeeded in altering language that would have changed the monitoring program already in place for sea otters at San Nicolas Island.

However, commercial fishing special interests have insisted on replacing text which would have required the federal government to maintain commercial shellfish harvest levels at current levels despite an expanding sea otter range. The new and unprecedented language instead supersedes the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and strips protections for sea otters that live south of Point Conception.

The new language would essentially authorize fishermen to continue irresponsible fishing practices that have been proven to ensnare, trap, and kill sea otters. Normally the protections afforded the threatened southern sea otter under the ESA and MMPA would prohibit “incidental take” that might occur when a sea otter is trapped in large-scale fishing gear, in order to protect the species.

H.R. 4043’s new language, for the first time in history, exempts sea otters in Southern California from these protections under the country’s most landmark wildlife protection laws. This is not only disastrous for sea otters, but the bill also sets a horrible precedent for all species protected under the ESA and MMPA that might prove to be an “inconvenience” to a well-connected special interest group.

The bill will be voted on as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization when it reaches the floor of the House of Representatives.

(5/18/2012) UPDATE: House passed HR 4310, including the Gallegly amendment stripping Southern California’s sea otters of incidental take protections under Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. Click to read FSO’s Press Release. FSO will continue to monitor and oppose the Gallegly amendment in the Senate.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie permalink
    May 25, 2012 7:27 pm

    What should people do? Write to their own representatives? Do you have a form letter? A sample letter? How soon is the vote?

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 19, 2012 11:30 pm

    How can I help? M

  3. June 21, 2012 4:37 pm

    Hi Debbie and Anonymous, thank you for your interest! Right now we are waiting to see what is going to happen to the amendment in the Senate before urging our members and the public to take action. Please be sure to sign up to receive emails from FSO by clicking here: http://bit.ly/M9H90r and we will be sure to alert you when action is needed!

    Thank you! Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions: info@seaotters.org or 831-915-3275.

  4. Dennis permalink
    October 2, 2012 4:02 pm

    so let me get this straight: killing (or taking) a sea otter for economic reasons is possible with this law?

  5. December 31, 2012 6:03 am

    Is this a federal law or does it apply to California? I know for a fact that if it were up to California, this bill would never pass. We have way too many fur hating, animal loving people.

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