Sometimes when I say I work for The Otter Project I get the response, “Awwwwww–who DOESN’T love sea otters?”
Fishermen and poachers, that’s who.
I got two articles in my google news alert today about marine mammals being shot–not a great trend and certainly not one I want to see so close to Thanksgiving.
One was a case of a fisherman from Sacramento shooting a sea lion out of sheer hostility and disregard for the law, as reported here in the Huffington Post. Now keep in mind that sea lions are fully protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act–and still the target of blatant hostility from fishermen. Follow that up with the fact that sea otters are moving into equally hostile territory where they aren’t fully protected, and it’s no wonder I’m waking up in the middle of the night worrying about sea otters.
I know there are reasonable, good hearted fishermen out there who are just trying to make a living and have no intention of shooting otters or any marine mammals, but guys like this sure give them a bad name.
The second story reports the outcome of a trial in Alaska about a resident of Craig that apparently participated in a sea otter poaching ring by providing the poachers the use of his boat. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a substantial fine. The Anchorage Daily News has the full story there. The good news is that it looks like full prosecution is moving ahead.
Sorry for the bad news, but it’s good to keep track of these events as a reminder that legal protections are important–but they’re not always enough. Vigilance, enforcement and prosecution are all part of the deal.