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House Passes Southeast Sea Otter Management Resolution (HJR26)

HJR 26 urges fed. agencies to plan sustainable mgmt of growing populations

Monday, March 19, 2012, Juneau, Alaska – With sea otter populations estimated at 20,000 and growing annually by about 12 percent in Southeast Alaska, they have become a major competitor of resources with subsistence and commercial fisheries. In light of that information, the Alaska House today passed Majority Whip Peggy Wilson’s resolution urging federal agencies to work with the state, native leaders, and other interested parties on a sustainable management plan.

House Joint Resolution 26 comes in response to the growing threat of over-population for the mammals, who compete with commercial, sport and subsistence fishers – and others in the ecosystem – for resources. It is estimated that altogether, sea otters consume 253,000 pounds of food in single day, costing the Southeast economy directly and indirectly $28.3 million, according to documents Whip Wilson submitted with the bill.

“The purpose of this resolution is to foster a discussion on the state and federal level on how to properly manage the growing sea otter population with healthy levels of sea cucumbers, sea urchins, geoducks, and other dive fisheries,” Wilson, R-Wrangell, said. “It also asks the federal government to consider broadening the scope of allowable uses of sea otters in Alaska Native handicrafts under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

“Good management calls for a new management plan now, not waiting for years of study, while sea otter over-population continues to devastate the shell fish fisheries,” Wilson said.

HJR 26 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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