Otter bill stymied

A bill to help sea otters will do a lot more than just help sea otters

Protection for otters is good for kelp and more

The Sea Otter Research and Recovery Act (currently going by H.R. 556) was on the House suspension calender for today. This is basically the Congressional equivelent of a consent list, for non-controversial bills that are expected to pass with little fan fare.

Unfortunately, fan fare ensued when Republican House members balked at the bill. Their reasoning was that they would prefer to see a bill that focuses on the entire California coastal eco-system, rather than just sea otters.

I know this sounds logical–who doesn’t want to see the entire California coastal eco-system restored and conserved? We sure do. But the political reality is that a bill of that scope is unlikely to acheive its purpose, if it even makes it out of Congress alive.

A sea otter bill might sound incredibly specific and narrow in focus–but it’s not. Sea otters are a keystone species, which means that protections and assistance to sea otters provides umbrella protections throughout the ecosystem. It’s kind of like a pay-it-forward approach to marine conservation; improve the conditions for sea otters, and you get a lot more bang for your coastal ecosystem conservation buck.

Congressman Farr is a smart guy–I’m pretty sure that that’s why he introduced this bill in the first place; not JUST because sea otters are cute.

This isn’t the end of the line–but some work will need to be done to get this bill passed.

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About Allison

I am the new Executive Director of The Otter Project in Monterey, California! Originally from the Bay Area, I went to school in San Diego, and came back north to Monterey for graduate school, where I found my calling: saving sea otters! Working for The Otter Project combines my passion for environmental policy with my love of animals. When not advocating for sea otters, I enjoy yoga, volunteer wildlife rehab, reading, and spending time with my cat Alyssa, who, for the record, I did not name. I have been with The Otter Project since November of 2007.
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2 Responses to Otter bill stymied

  1. Allison says:

    Thanks Barbara! We just heard the news, and as of right now, we’re not sure what will be required. Our friends in Washington are strategizing, but as soon as they let us know what needs to be done, we will be raising the alarm. Having constituents from all over the country (not just CA) speak out on behalf of the sea otter is especially important! We’ll definitely let everyone know how they can help once we have an idea of where the bill will go from here.

  2. Barbara Wertz says:

    What can we do to help? Are there co-sponsors of the legislation that we can contact? I don’t see how any legislator would think it would be easier to design and pass a bill which entails the “entire California coastal eco-stystem” that to simply pass the existing bill.

    I am from Pennsylvania, but I love sea otters. I can certainly make some phone calls.

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