ANCHORAGE — Sea otters have come back from the brink of extinction along Alaska’s Panhandle, but fishermen who dive for crab and other shellfish are seeking relief from their voracious appetites.
Phil Doherty of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association said sea otters threaten the livelihood of his 200 members.
Sea otters grow as large as 100 pounds and eat the equivalent of a quarter of their weight each day.
They can decimate beds of red sea urchins and other species harvested for sale in Asia.
Patrick Lemons of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the agency can’t intervene to protect commercial fisheries until a species is at its “optimum sustainable population.”
Lemons says sea otters are still colonizing southeast Alaska. He says the population remains significantly below the number of animals the region can support without harming the environment.
- A new Blood Bank of Alaska location celebrated its grand opening Thursday in Juneau. The region has been served by mobile blood donation facilities in the past, but this is the first permanent center in years.
- On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service notified objectors of a proposed timber sale about a public meeting in Klawock. By Thursday, the meeting was canceled. But some groups are wondering why this work is happening now at all.
- Speaker Pro Tempore Neal Foster was able to swear in House appointee Sharon Jackson, but the legislative body still can’t form committees or start work on bills until a majority comes together.
- For decades, Bethel Search and Rescue has flown with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor winter river conditions. But the shutdown has forced the group to turn to pricey commercial airlines for help.