For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Jim Curland, Defenders of Wildlife, (831) 726-9010 James Navarro, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0247

Defenders of Wildlife Applauds the Passage of Important Sea Otter Bill by House of Representatives

Bill includes funding to address the problems facing the southern sea otter population

MONTEREY, Calif. - Today, the U.S.
House of Representatives voted 316 to 107 to approve passage of the Southern Sea
Otter Recovery and Research Act (H.R. 556). This important legislation would
further recovery efforts for the critically imperiled southern sea otter
population by establishing an assessment on sea otter health to determine why
the population is declining and providing funding for grants to address the
current threats to sea otters.

 "Defenders of Wildlife is grateful for
the leadership shown by Rep. San Farr and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, chair of the
House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife in securing this
vital action to help recover California's sea otters," said Jim Curland, the
marine program associate with Defenders of Wildlife. 

Learn more about what Defenders is doing to help sea otters.

The current
three-year average for the southern sea otter population, based on the most
recent Spring 2009 count, is 2,813, down a slight drop from the previous average
of 2,826, the first time the trend has been negative since the late 1990s. The current threats include food
limitations, disease, habitat degradation, the potential for getting caught in
fishing gear, and possibly other things. Oil spills are a continued threat to
this population. This bill will
help ongoing as well as new research by USGS scientists and research partners in
trying to identify important sources of mortality in sea otters, and the
underlying reasons for the sluggish rate of recovery and variable population

 "Sea otters are essential for the health
of California's coastline and a
much beloved animal nationwide. 
These playful and charismatic species are the main predators for sea
urchins, abalone and other kelp-eating species.  Without sea otters, these kelp forests
would disappear, depriving our coast of key nurseries for many important fish
species and as a buffer against storms," Curland said.

"Helping the
recovery of the Southern sea otter has the added benefit of increasing
Coast tourism revenue,"
Rep. Farr said. "Fans of the otter contributed hundreds of thousands of tourism
dollars every year to our communities, a big factor in contributing to the
recovery of our local economy."

"We look forward to
working with the Senate to enact this bill which will provide vital resources to
conserve our beloved sea otters," Curland added.


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