Alaska doesn’t need predator control on sea otters
Companion bills coursing their way through the Alaska Senate and House propose killing sea otters to protect the shell fishing industry. It is true that sea otters prey on shell fish, particularly sea urchins, but ignores the sea otter contribution to the fishing industry other than shell fish.
After being nearly decimated for their fur, sea otters are expanding back to their original range in SE Alaska. The science should prevail. When sea otters are removed from the ecosystem, the urchin populations grow dramatically and demolish kelp forests. Loss of sea otters has a huge impact on the ecosystem, providing habitat for invertebrates that in turn are food for over 20 species of fish. Kelp forests also serve as nursery for salmon.
A seminar within the last month at the UAF College of Ocean Fisheries and Sciences at the Lena Point fisheries facility north of Juneau emphasized the value of sea otters in recent research in California. A new children’s book, Sea Otter Heroes, is based on that research.
Alaska should not wage predator control on Sea Otters.