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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif)

October 15, 2020

Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) announced the distribution of over $200,000 in federal government grants for sea otter conservation programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The Aquarium was awarded a $100,000 grant for its southern sea otter surrogacy program in addition to a $100,000 grant to improve its work to rescue stranded southern sea otters.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s commitment to conservation is transforming what it means to be an aquarium,” said Congressman Panetta.  “I am proud to have helped them secure funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program.  These grants that will help the Aquarium continue its efforts to protect the southern sea otter, which is not just a beloved animal to the people of the Central Coast, but also a keystone species, essential to ensuring the health of our coastline.”

 “For nearly 40 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, with the support of many generous donors, has worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to recover California’s threatened sea otters,” said Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  “We are grateful for this first ever grant from the agency and excited for how it will enhance our partnership. In these challenging times, financial support is vital as we continue to rescue and rehabilitate stranded sea otters, releasing them in places where they can help restore coastal ecosystems.”

The Prescott program provides financial assistance to eligible participants for the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation of marine mammals.  Last year, Congress began to allocate funds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement the program.  This is the first year the agency has distributed Prescott grant awards.

In 2019, the Aquarium published research confirming that its groundbreaking Southern sea otter conservation program had accounted for more than 50 percent of observed sea otter population growth in the Elkhorn Slough between 2002 and 2016.  The Aquarium’s unique work has bolstered ongoing efforts to promote restoration of the estuary, allowing ecological communities that the otters support to recover and thrive.