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Letters: Enforce the otter law

August 04, 2013

Re "No-otter zone is sought by lawsuit," Aug. 2

I was the chief negotiated for affected fishermen before Congress established the "otter-free zone" off the Southern California coast in 1986. But in 1993, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned that program.

Before the passage of Public Law 99-625 in 1986, our legal counsel at the time, the Pacific Legal Foundation, determined that the proposal to translocate sea otters to San Nicolas Island violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Attorneys for the Interior Department agreed. This brought all parties to the table.

Congress drafted this law as a compromise. Under it, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could translocate sea otters and fishermen would receive protection of their fishing grounds. The agency published a translocation plan and rules in the Federal Register.

The Fish and Wildlife Service should be obligated to obey the law it helped create.

Steven L. Rebuck

San Luis Obispo

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