CSHJR 26(RES) am: Urging federal agencies to work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Southeast Alaska Native leaders, and other interested parties to establish strategies and plans for the sustainable management of the reintroduced sea otter population of Southeast Alaska.
00 CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 26(RES) am 01 Urging federal agencies to work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 02 Southeast Alaska Native leaders, and other interested parties to establish strategies and 03 plans for the sustainable management of the reintroduced sea otter population of 04 Southeast Alaska. 05 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 06 WHEREAS, in the late 1960s, in the absence of a long-term management plan, the 07 Alaska Department of Fish and Game reintroduced approximately 400 sea otters to nearshore 08 waters in six different locations around Southeast Alaska; and 09 WHEREAS, without proper management, the sea otter population in southern 10 Southeast Alaska has grown at an alarming rate; and 11 WHEREAS more than 10,560 sea otters were observed in 2003, and a 2010-2011 12 aerial survey by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service revealed 20,000 sea otters, for an 13 approximate annual growth rate of 12 percent in southern Southeast Alaska and four percent 14 in northern Southeast Alaska; and 15 WHEREAS the federal government, which has responsibility for managing sea otter
01 populations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, has not established an 02 effective management plan for protecting the ecosystems affected by sea otters; and 03 WHEREAS, in 1994, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued the 04 "Conservation Plan for the Sea Otter in Alaska," which stated that, while the optimum 05 sustainable population range had not been numerically defined for sea otters in Alaska, the 06 stock was believed to be in the optimum sustainable population range; and 07 WHEREAS the preface to the 1994 plan states that the plan "will be reviewed 08 annually and revised at least every three to five years"; and 09 WHEREAS male sea otters in Alaska can weigh up to 100 pounds and average 10 between 60 and 85 pounds, and large females can weigh up to 72 pounds and average 11 between 35 and 60 pounds; and 12 WHEREAS unmanaged high numbers of reintroduced sea otters consume up to 23 13 percent of their body weight each day of crab, abalone, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, clams, 14 and other shellfish that the region's human residents rely on for subsistence and commercial 15 uses and appear to be contributing to degradation of the ecological balance in many areas, 16 leading to diminished human harvests of those important subsistence and commercial 17 resources; and 18 WHEREAS the dramatically increasing and currently high number of reintroduced 19 sea otters has, in some areas, depleted shellfish stocks to a degree that subsistence, personal 20 use, sport, and commercial fishing have been halted because of unsustainable lack of 21 abundance; and 22 WHEREAS the State of Alaska, on behalf of its residents, has invested large 23 quantities of time and money in developing fisheries resources that are now being consumed 24 by sea otters; and 25 WHEREAS many residents in the state's coastal communities directly or indirectly 26 depend on the fishery resources of the state's coastal waters; and 27 WHEREAS money derived from the harvest of the state's sustainably managed 28 aquatic resources forms a major component of the economies of the state's coastal 29 communities, causing those communities to be particularly vulnerable to situations that 30 negatively affect yields from local resources; and 31 WHEREAS Southeast Alaska's municipalities, towns, and villages face substantial
01 challenges in developing broader economic opportunities for their residents; and 02 WHEREAS the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 removed marine mammals 03 from the State of Alaska's management, denying Alaska residents and most Americans the 04 opportunity to harvest marine mammals, even if the denial places animal populations, 05 ecosystems, and the State of Alaska's economy at risk; and 06 WHEREAS Southeast Alaska's indigenous inhabitants have hunted sea otters since 07 time immemorial; and 08 WHEREAS, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the regulations 09 adopted under the Act, Alaska Natives are limited to selling only "authentic" and "traditional" 10 Native handicrafts; and 11 WHEREAS sec. 101 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 provides for 12 exemptions for Alaska Natives to harvest marine mammals, as long as the taking is for 13 subsistence purposes and not accomplished in a wasteful manner; and 14 WHEREAS sec. 101 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 allows for the 15 use of marine mammal pelts for authentic Native articles, including handicrafts and clothing; 16 and 17 WHEREAS, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, sale of value-added 18 fur products is allowed in both intrastate and interstate commerce; and 19 WHEREAS the state serves as a model for the management of harvestable resources 20 for sustained yield and sustainable use; and 21 WHEREAS implementation of a sustainable harvest management regime for sea 22 otters will serve the dual purposes of maintaining sea otter populations at a level suitable for 23 continued ecological balance and expanding economic opportunity; and 24 WHEREAS sec. 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 allows the 25 United States Secretary of the Interior to enter into cooperative agreements with Alaska 26 Native organizations for the conservation of marine mammals and the development of marine 27 mammal cooperative management structures with federal and state agencies, including the 28 creation of local management plans for the harvest of marine mammals for subsistence use; 29 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 30 Secretary of the Interior and appropriate federal agencies to work with the Alaska Department 31 of Fish and Game, Southeast Alaska's Native leaders, and other interested parties in the state
01 to establish strategies and plans for sustainable management of the reintroduced sea otter 02 population of Southeast Alaska; and be it 03 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges state and federal 04 government authorities, in developing those management plans, actively to consider means of 05 expanding and enhancing small business and broader economic opportunities for residents of 06 Southeast Alaska; and be it 07 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges federal authorities 08 to consider broadening the scope of allowable uses for sea otters taken for subsistence 09 purposes by replacing the references to "authentic" and "traditional" handicrafts in the Marine 10 Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the regulations adopted under the Act with the phrase 11 "Alaska Native articles of handicraft" and continuing the sale of sea otter pelts consistent with 12 all other provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. 13 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Ken Salazar, United States 14 Secretary of the Interior; and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the Honorable Mark Begich, 15 U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska 16 delegation in Congress.