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As Salmon Season Re-Opens, Anglers Urged to 'Go Slow in Elkhorn Slough'
Speeding boats could put threatened marine mammals in harm’s way
Anglers will be in a hurry to head out into Monterey Bay early on Saturday, April 6, when recreational salmon season re-opens. But with large numbers of sea otters continuing to reside in the Moss Landing area, particularly a group near the north jetty, wildlife experts remain concerned about accidental deaths of otters by boat strikes.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Moss Landing Harbor District, Friends of the Sea Otter and other local organizations ask recreational anglers and boaters to safeguard sea otters and other marine mammals and birds by slowing down in and around Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.
The slough is a no-wake zone, with a posted speed limit of 4 knots, or about 5 miles per hour. Linda G. McIntyre, general manager/harbormaster of the Moss Landing Harbor District, said she and her staff will be on patrol on opening day to ensure compliance. As in past years, volunteers with the aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other organizations will work together on the season’s opening weekend to talk to anglers and caution boaters to slow down.
“The Marine Mammal Protection Act protects sea otters and other marine mammals and prohibits people from killing and harassing these animals. Wildlife experts realize that most boaters have no wish to harm sea otters but know that inadvertent boat strikes occasionally do occur,” said McIntyre.
According to Andrew Johnson, the aquarium’s sea otter program manager, more than a dozen sea otters have died from boat strikes over the past several years, many of these in the coastal waters between Moss Landing and Santa Cruz. The sea otters in the harbor and slough form part of a research group that aquarium staff and other local biologists have been studying for years. Data from those ongoing research studies have provided valuable information that could be important to the survival of this threatened species.
Jim Curland, advocacy program director for Friends of the Sea Otter, said sea otter deaths from boat strikes result from a lack of information and attention.
“Sea otters face a number of threats, including pollution, disease, oil spills and entanglement in fishing gear,” Curland said. “Addressing these threats isn’t always easy. But the solution to boat strikes is simple: boaters need to keep an eye out and slow down for sea otters and other marine mammals whenever they're in sea otter habitat like Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.”
Recreational salmon season opens Saturday, April 6, and runs until April 30. The Pacific Fishery Management Council and the California Fish and Game Commission will decide on regulations and restrictions that may come into in effect on or after May 1.
Californians can help support recovery of threatened sea otters, an iconic species along the Central Coast, by contributing to the California Sea Otter Fund, Code 410 on their state income tax form. Taxpayers can contribute as much as they wish to the Fund to help sea otters.
Friends of the Sea Otter is committed to and advocates for the conservation of sea otters and the preservation of their habitat through education, research, and policy decisions that will ensure the long-term survival of this species.
The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.
Other media contacts:
Jim Curland (831) 726-9010; email@example.com
Linda G. McIntyre, general manager/harbormaster, Moss Landing Harbor District, (831) 633-5417