Alaska sea otter roundup: Too many in Southeast, too few in Southwest

Sea otters eye passengers on a passing tour boat in Resurrection Bay in early July. BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

Sea otters are thriving in Southeast Alaska after nearly becoming extinct a century ago. Commercial shellfish fishermen are complaining that otters take too much of the catch. KCAW reports that U.S. Rep Don Young has introduced legislation that would allow Natives to increase their subsistence harvest and sell whole otter pelts instead of just otter handicrafts and clothing. In the Aleutians and Southwest Alaska, KUCB reports, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft recovery plan for the northern sea otter population, thought to have been depleted by killer whale predation. Meanwhile, several Prince William Sound and Kodiak-area Native villages have sued the federal government for breach of trust in the joint management of subsistence hunting of sea otters.