SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by commercial fishermen that challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to do away with an otter-free zone in Southern California coastal waters.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday the 2013 lawsuit was filed in time and not outside the statute of limitations.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision dismissing the suit and sent the case back down for an evaluation of its merits.

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