Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Draft Stock Assessment Report on Southern Sea Otters Available May 9

May 08, 2012

May 8, 2012

Contact: Lois Grunwald, 805-644-1766, ext. 332 or

Draft Stock Assessment Report on Southern Sea Otters Available May 9; Public Comments Accepted Through August 7, 2012

A draft stock assessment report for the southern sea otter off the California coast will be available tomorrow, May 9, 2012.

The Notice of Availability for the southern sea otter stock assessment report is available for viewing today at the Federal Register’s public inspection page here and will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. The report summarizes recent information on human-caused mortality and sea otter population trends through 2010. The assessment does not include the 2011 spring survey count of sea otters, which was not completed due to poor weather conditions, or the 2012 spring survey count, which is not yet available.

The report can be viewed in Adobe Acrobat by navigating to the species information page for the southern sea otter at, by writing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003, or by contacting Lois Grunwald at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (805) 644-1766, ext. 332.

The stock assessment report—developed in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)—indicates that California’s sea otter population remains vulnerable to shark bites, disease, food limitation, and catastrophic events. For the period 2006-2010, the average growth rate was approximately -0.3 percent annually for the mainland population and approximately 2.5 percent annually for the San Nicolas Island population.

One of the goals of the MMPA is to ensure that stocks of marine mammals occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States do not experience a level of human-caused mortality and serious injury that is likely to cause the stock to be reduced below its optimum sustainable population level. To help accomplish this goal, the MMPA requires the Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare stock assessment reports for each marine mammal stock that occurs in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States. The stock assessments are to be based on the best scientific information available.

The draft stock assessment report will be available for public review and comment for 90 days. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to, faxed to 805/644-3958, or mailed or hand-delivered to: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B; Ventura, CA 93003. Comments must be received by August 7, 2012.  

The southern sea otter once ranged from Oregon south to Baja California, Mexico. During the 18th and 19th centuries, otters were hunted for their luxurious pelts; by the early 1900s the species was nearly extinct, with only a small remnant colony surviving off the Big Sur coast. This keystone species in the California marine ecosystem was listed as threatened in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act and is considered a depleted species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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 -- FWS--