It’s easy enough to look at the “No-Otter Zone” and think: “This is stupid, the animals can’t read.” Well, it’s more complicated than that.
When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dreamed up the translocation of sea otters to San Nicolas Island, our counsel at the time, the Pacific Legal Foundation, informed the service that its plan violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Later, attorneys for the Interior Department agreed. This brought all the affected parties before Congress. In a compromise, Congress drafted Public Law 99-625. This allowed the service to move forward, but also included protection of the mainland and northern Channel Islands fishing grounds.
Fish and Wildlife Service wrote a translocation plan and published rules in the Federal Register. Unfortunately, it has continued to break its own rules for the past 20 years, costing cities and ports from Santa Barbara southward millions of dollars annually in lost fishing resources.