Dan Ashe served as FWS Director from June 2011 until January 2017. The following is an archive of blogs authored by Director Ashe during that time. This content is intended for historical reference only and not as a representation of current Service policy or opinion.
Greetings from Alaska!
I am here for over a week to see how our team is doing up here.
After arriving in Juneau on Friday, I joined staff from Senator Murkowski’s office along with staff from Senator Begich’S and Congressman Young’s offices, representatives from Alaska, the conservation NGO community, Alaska Native tribes, the commercial fishing industry and others to talk about sea otter issues in southeast Alaska.
Sea otters were hunted nearly to extinction in the late 1700s and 1800s through commercial harvest for their luxurious furs. Once commercial harvest ceased, sea otter numbers rebounded and they re-colonized much of their former range.
Sea otters were hunted nearly to extinction in the late 1700s and 1800s. Credit: USFWS
The rebounding populations, though, have raised concerns about impacts on commercial and subsistence shellfish (and other) fisheries. In addition, there is concern in the Alaska Native community about USFWS enforcement of the section in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that states that any handicraft made from a sea otter pelt must be “significantly altered” if it is to be sold to a non-Native.