The Alaska Senate is urging the federal government to work with the State of Alaska to control the population of sea otters in Southeast Alaska.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 20-0 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 13, a measure from Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and sent it to the House for consideration.
According to figures presented to Senate committees earlier this year, there are more than 51,000 sea otters in Southeast Alaska, and the population is increasing at a rate of 13 percent per year. Sea otters are so numerous, the resolution states, that they are driving down the availability of shellfish and other oceanic foods used for subsistence.
The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act forbids the hunting of sea otters by anyone with less than one-quarter Alaska Native ancestry.
The resolution urges the federal government to coordinate with the State of Alaska and tribes to take more sea otters and reduce the population. It also urges the federal government to change its blood quantum requirement to allow more Alaska Natives to participate in the hunting of sea otters.
In other business Wednesday, the Senate voted 20-0 in favor of Senate Bill 65, which establishes the Jonesville Public Use area in Southcentral. The area is east of Palmer and Sutton, and north of the Glenn Highway.
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, picked up prime sponsorship of the bill after the resignation of Mike Dunleavy from the Senate. It was the first prime-sponsored bill by Shower to pass the Senate.
A companion bill has broad support in the House.
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