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Judge denies challenge from fishing organizations, upholds protections for California sea otters

Lilian Carswell, USFWS

Protections for sea otters in the Santa Barbara Channel are being maintained following a recent ruling by a Federal Judge.

The ruling maintains a 2012 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service terminating a 'no-otter zone', which extended from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border.

The 'zone,' created in 1987, was intended to balance sea otter and fishery protections, by establishing a large otter community at San Nicholas Island.

Fish and Wildlife showed the zone was deadly to otters and ended it.

Brian Segee is with the Environmental Defense Center in Ojai and said there are still some future decisions to be seen in court. 

"This decision was detailed-- very detailed rationale from the judge on the merits of the case-- uniformly and very clearly rejected all of their arguments," said Segee. "I think it's a strong decision."

Pacific Legal Foundation represents the fisheries and said that the Service has established a new population of sea otters on the island that is healthy and growing, but not as quickly as had been hoped. 

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