Alaska's curious and charming sea otters are finally on the path to recovery after being pushed to the brink of extinction by over-hunting. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Alaska Native hunters alone are allowed to kill sea otters -- and they can only do so to create "authentic native handicrafts."
Unfortunately those protections could be weakened if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collapses under the greedy pressures of the commercial fishing industry -- rules may be expanded to include nearly unaltered sea otter pelts under the "handicrafts" definition.
Sea otters play an important role in Alaska's coastal ecosystems by encouraging the growth of kelp beds, which serve as nurseries for fish and create important carbon dioxide sinks. But sea otters also eat some species that are targeted by commercial fishers, so the fishing industry is pushing to control sea otter populations.
Please take action now to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Alaska's sea otters.
I oppose changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act that would expand the definition of "handicraft" to include nearly unaltered sea otter pelts. Any definition of handicraft should be narrow enough to ensure that sea otters are allowed to recover and thrive.
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Sea otters play an important role in Alaska's coastal ecosystems. They need to be protected, not treated as predators to be eradicated.
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