California Fishermen’s Fight for Otter-Free Zone Advances

no-otter-zone-mapFishing industry groups fighting for a “no-otter” zone along the southern coast of California can advance their claims, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday, reversing a district court decision to dismiss the case. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling found that four fishing industry groups’ 2013 challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s authority to end a sea otter translocation program was not barred by the statute of limitations. The Ninth Circuit did not rule on the merits of the case, instead asserting that the case should not have been dismissed from federal court on the timeliness issue. “The operative agency action challenged is the 2012 program termination, and thus that plaintiffs’ challenge is timely,” U.S. Circuit Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the three-judge panel. “We express no opinion on the merits of plaintiffs’ underlying claims.” The underlying dispute stems from a long and fractious battle between environmentalists advocating on behalf of sea otters and fishing industry groups claiming that allowing the mammals unfettered access to coastal areas would compromise or even destroy shellfish fisheries along California’s southern coast. Read the rest here 10:36

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