USFWS Public Hearing Update – Santa Barbara & Santa Cruz

On October 4th and 6th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted their second and third public hearings on the “No-Otter” Zone in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz respectively.

The good news for sea otters and their supporters is that in a reversal of fortunes from the 1st Ventura meeting, supporters of preferred alternative 3c (which would end the “No-Otter” Zone) showed up in larger numbers than representatives from the commercial fishing industry.

In a fantastic turn of events, only 1 dissenting voice spoke from a small group representing the fishing community attended the Santa Cruz hearing, while comments in support of removing the “No-Otter” Zone were heard from more than 20 speakers.

One testimony in particular that moved the crowd in Santa Cruz included the story of a former commercial urchin fisherman who believes that otters have the right to food resources and if human competition for resources negatively impacts the existence of otters then it was time for him to find another way to make a living..

At the end of the 3 public hearings, support for pursuing preferred alternative 3c outnumbered opposition from the fishing community at 2 of the 3 meetings. While this is a fantastic result – the battle is far from over.

It is imperative that supporters of sea otters continue to voice their concerns about the zone before the Monday, Oct 24 deadline (12:00pm EST).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made available to the public a fast and easy way to electronically send written comments on the proposed rule and associated environmental documents.

Make sure to visit our resources page if you’re unclear about what to comment on or for formatting ideas about composing your letter.

When you’re ready to submit, just follow these easy steps:

1. Go to the www.regulations.gov webpage to submit comments. Please note there is a 20 minute time limit for this page so we suggest writing your comments first. Fill in the required information form. Then, you can upload your document (pdf preferred) or you can copy and paste your comments in the comment box. For an example of what to include in your comment box, read our issues page.

2. When you are done, make sure you click Submit!

Remember – Monday, Oct 24, 12:00pm EST is the cutoff. You MUST get your comments into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before this date.

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This entry was posted in conservation, Fisheries Conflicts, Mini-controversies, No Otter Zone, Outreach and Awareness. Bookmark the permalink.

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