July 29, 2009
US House Votes to Help Sea Otters, Marine Turtles
WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund praise the U.S. House of Representatives, which took steps to protect rare animals of the sea through legislation passed last night. The House approved H.R. 556, the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act, which was introduced by longtime animal protection champion Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif. The bill passed by a vote of 316-107. The House also passed H.R. 509, the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Henry E Brown, R-S.C., Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife. This measure was passed 354-72.
The bill reconstitutes a team of scientists under the Endangered Species Act to monitor and promote the recovery of this threatened marine mammal and authorizes funding for scientific research to support this purpose.
The legislation could not come at a more critical time, as a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that the sea otter population along California's coast experienced the most alarming decline in a decade. Laboratory tests show the otters are dying off from bacteria, viruses and parasites from urban sewage and agricultural runoff that pollute creeks and coastal waters.
This measure expands marine turtle conservation assistance under the Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004 to include the United States and its territories, and authorizes appropriations to the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund for FY2009-FY2014.
The Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act authorizes an additional five years of grants for marine turtle conservation projects in foreign countries, expands eligibility to include projects in the U.S., and increases authorized funding levels. This important bill helps to save these animals who have been endangered by the destruction of nesting habitats, poaching, entanglement in marine debris, ship strikes and pollution.
"We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Sam Farr and Henry Brown for pushing these important bills to help sea otters and marine turtles," said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States, and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "The animal welfare and conservation laws of our country are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this pair of bills represent a measurable step forward."
- Farr's bill does more than just protect sea otters. The otters play a vitally important role in maintaining the health of California's central coast marine ecosystem.
- Protecting sea otters will also protect the coastal ocean as a healthy and productive environment capable of supporting innumerable other marine species in addition to industries valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
- The House has already passed measures this year to protect sharks, cranes, rare canines and felines, captive primates, and wild horses and burros. The HSUS and HSLF thanked House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, and National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who have been instrumental in moving these measures forward.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at hslf.org.