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Thread: Sea Otter problem in Southeast Alaska

  1. #1
    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Default Sea Otter problem in Southeast Alaska

    There must be other people on this site who share the concern about the uncontrollable expanding sea otter population. The shellfish in southeast alaska are on the way of being completely wiped out. Years ago when there used to be a sea urchin fishery in Sitka, when the otters made their way into the Sitka area, in one year they consumed 16,000,000 sea urchins closing the fishery instantly.

    Abalone are basically non-existent anymore and this year they have been proposed to be put on the endangered species list. This is not only because of sea otters, but also due to a poorly regulated fishery, and overharvest of the animal, but otters played a significant role in keeping the abalone from repopulating. As the otters continue to migrate to inside waters, they have begun to decimate important subsistence and commercial shellfish harvesting. Otters are starting to heavily effect Dungeness crab fishing, Sea cucumber and Geoduck harvesting, not to mention the harvest of clams and scallops.

    A sea otter consumes 23% of it's body weight a day in shellfish, so in a year one 50lb sea otter will consume roughly 4,200lbs of various shellfish. With an estimated population of 25,000 sea otters in southeast alone, and a population increase of 8% in northern southeast, and an outrageous 12% population increase in southern southeast, it's not long until the otters eat themselves out of house and home. If nothing is done to slow the population, Important shellfish commercial fisheries and subsistence opportunities for the people of southeast will be gone.

    Diving around Sitka Sound now is a graveyard of abalone and shellfish shells. It's not uncommon to see over 50 otters a day on an hour long skiff cruise. The hunting harvest by Alaska natives for otters is not enough to effect the population at all, and if nothing is done soon to address this problem, I can't imagine what it's going to be like 5-10 years from now. If anyone is interested, below is a great link discussing the effect of sea otters on southeast Alaska's ecosystem.

    http://seagrant.uaf.edu/nosb/papers/...eau-otters.php

  2. #2
    Member NeverLand's Avatar
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    Is hunting by non-natives an option?

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    I think any one can hunt the Otter's it is just that if you are not a Naitive , an they catch you' it will cost you pleanty in money an could be some time in the ... local Jail I think [ FEDS don't like it ] SID

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    No shortage of them in PWS either wish they would allow some type of harvest.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the outcome of the vote.”--Benjamin Franklin

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    My wife would love a sea otter coat.
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

    Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top. -- Hunter S. Thompson

  6. #6

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    Ya know they are listed as threatened in the Endangered Species section. There's even a "recovery" plan. Insane. Out in the Aleutians we had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars moving an seafood outfall pipe a few feet so it discharged below 60ft since anything shallower was considered critical habitat. http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/p...on?spcode=A0HK

    Fortunately the local folks had their problem solved when a pod of Killer Whales showed up and the next thing ya know...no sea otters. Apparently it happens every 5 years or so.

    The stuff they eat aren't cute. They are. I think one of the most disturbing takeaways I have from my video posting days is that one day I happened across a sea otter chowing down on an octopus. Didn't think anything of it and posted the video. Of all my fishing videos, it ranks number three in number of views. That is sort of the uphill battle people are fighting. There are a lot more folks out there who think Sea Otters are too cute and any protection (even misguided ones) should be in place. Not sure what to do about it other than keep educating folks.

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    [QUOTE=Kardinal_84;1355577]

    Fortunately the local folks had their problem solved when a pod of Killer Whales showed up and the next thing ya know...no sea otters. Apparently it happens every 5 years or so.[QUOTE]

    That might end up being the answer. Down here around San Francisco, orcas have been moving in closer to shore, feeding on the growing sea lion population. A couple of years ago I watched 3 orcas helping each other tear apart a sea lion about one mile off the beach. Down here we also get some help from great whites.

    Big_E

  8. #8

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    Anythingalaska is spot on. They are wiping lots of stuff out, including the crab. I've seen rafts of 30+ just hanging out. We gotta get it changed before it's too late.

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    Member Sobie2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR2 View Post
    My wife would love a sea otter coat.
    I can arrange for that, legally. You can legally buy sea otter goods provided they have been made by an Alaska Native person. I hunt sea otters, and tag them (from other hunters) for the USFWS.


    Sobie2

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    What does a legal otter cost? PM me if you want to keep it private. My wife says winter otters are the best :-D
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

    Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top. -- Hunter S. Thompson

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    Anythingalaska is spot on. They are wiping lots of stuff out, including the crab. I've seen rafts of 30+ just hanging out. We gotta get it changed before it's too late.
    What were the historic population levels of dive fishery species prior to the turn of the century extirpation of otters from SE?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kardinal_84 View Post
    That is sort of the uphill battle people are fighting. There are a lot more folks out there who think Sea Otters are too cute and any protection (even misguided ones) should be in place. Not sure what to do about it other than keep educating folks.
    Unfortunately that battle has been raging for many, many years for all kinds of things. If you ask me people that vote with their emotions instead of the facts is one of the main problems we have with a lot of the things in the world today.

    Personally I happen to think that wolves and brown bears are absolutely beautiful as well, but it doesn't mean that I wouldn't vote for aerial hunting and bear baiting when it comes to regulating their population when it has to be regulated. Bears aren't "Teddy" bears, and wolves aren't pets.....which is the way SO many people see them. Cute is cute, but so is a moose calf....

    But in case, like so many before it, when there are absolutely no crabs left for humans to eat, then maybe those sea otters won't be as cute as they are now. But by then it may be too late.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  13. #13
    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies everyone. It is definitely an uphill battle. Hardly anyone besides the people of Alaska who live with this issue every day, really understand it. Uneducated people from Alaska, and most certainly people from the lower 48 don't understand the issue, and view it as people wanting to go out and shoot floating teddy bears off the water. Shellfish populations are declining and many areas (Including Sea Otter Sound near POW, accurately named) are being closed for dive fisheries. The southeast baranof and outer chichagof shoreline are two other areas that have been closed for harvest. Not surprisingly, those two areas as well as the west side of POW were the three areas otters were planted when they were reintroduced.


    Here is a quote from 2012.

    ''One male otter can consume up to 7,300 pounds of food per year.
    As of 2012, it is estimated that there are 21,500 sea otters in Southeast Alaska, up significantly from previous years. Using an average body weight of 65 pounds and a daily food intake of 25 percent of body weight, a sea otter population of 21,500 animals will consume over 127 million pounds of shellfish per year.'

    To put that into perspective, the entire 2010 Southeast Alaska harvest in the dive and dungeness crab fisheries was 5.9 million pounds.


    If we adjust that to todays population, that comes out to 25,000 otters consuming 148,281,250 lbs of shellfish a year! Unbelievable!

    Something needs to be done soon, before it's too late. Unfortunately, with people from Washington D.C. making decisions for us thousands of miles away, who knows if any progress will ever happen.

    Another good article. Wish they would have enacted this bounty.

    http://homertribune.com/2013/03/a-bounty-on-sea-otters/

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anythingalaska View Post
    The shellfish in southeast alaska are on the way of being completely wiped out.
    Are they being "wiped out", or are they returning to pre turn of the century population levels that existed before the otter population was extirpated from SE?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Are they being "wiped out", or are they returning to pre turn of the century population levels that existed before the otter population was extirpated from SE?
    Valid point, and I suppose it's a possibility. But as far as the generation we live and know now, they are being wiped out. They should not be on the endangered species list anymore, as they are thriving and are overpopulated.

    Eventually they will eat themselves out of house and home, and not only will the harvest of traditional shellfish be gone, but once these species are gone the otter will move on the less desireable shellfish and crustaceans. If nothing is done, only when there is no shellfish for humans, but otters as well; will the population decrease. In the end it won't be the otter that were exterminated, it will be the shellfish. There is a balance that the otters are upsetting.

    There is no benefit to have any more otters than we have now, and even that is too much. About the only thing an otter is good for, is keeping urchin numbers down so that there are good kept forest habitats to support small fish, salmon fry, fingerlings, and other invertebrates. But it doesn't take 25,000+ otters to do that.

  16. #16

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    Wouldn't it be nice if we could exterminate PC? I for one am sick the discrimination, how long before we accept we are all equal no special rights for anyone!!! And no I don't see myself nor will I ever call myself a "local" anyone that don't understand what that really means is a big part of these problems, why do we accept be discriminated against?? I will support what Alaska stands for not tell it what it should be, but rather what it was.

    point being we are ALL equals no special hunts for some but not others, no special areas for certain people, we all own the land and we all live from it,
    we need to end this stupid "special people"

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    The otter population is exploding in part to low to no traditional harvest by what is called indigenous people. In part do to government handouts. Why work if you don't have to? I would love to hunt Otters I wounder if I could be contracted to hunt for my son in law?
    QUOTE=iofthetaiga;1356010]Are they being "wiped out", or are they returning to pre turn of the century population levels that existed before the otter population was extirpated from SE?[/QUOTE]

  18. #18

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    Could you please tell me whT "traditional harvest" means? Did they have rifles? Did they have the right to bush planes? Did they get checks that they didn't earn? Think about this for a moment.....

    if someone gave you every year more money than you needed what would you do with your time when hunting has always been a chore?

    simple thing is "natives" lost what they had, it will never return.

    So how long do you have to inhibit the land before you have special rights? 100 yrs? 200 yrs?

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mooneyman View Post
    Could you please tell me whT "traditional harvest" means? Did they have rifles? Did they have the right to bush planes? Did they get checks that they didn't earn? Think about this for a moment.....

    if someone gave you every year more money than you needed what would you do with your time when hunting has always been a chore?

    simple thing is "natives" lost what they had, it will never return.

    Blatant historical ignorance and racism aside, this post was pretty pathetic....

    BUT!!!

    Then came this gem......

    Quote Originally Posted by mooneyman
    So how long do you have to inhibit the land before you have special rights? 100 yrs? 200 yrs?

    Irony abounds.....
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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    Alaskahippie, can't rep you so now I owe you another beer!

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