H.R. 2714, a bill introduced by Rep. Donald Young of Alaska, threatens to restart the fur trade of northern sea otters from southcentral and southeastern Alaska.
All sea otters are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act which makes it illegal to hunt a sea otter or sell any products made from the body of a sea otter, unless the sea otter is harvested by an Alaskan Native for subsistence purposes. Even an Alaskan Native must sufficiently alter a sea otter pelt into some kind of traditional artifact or handicraft before selling anything made from a sea otter. It is currently illegal for anyone, including Alaskan Natives, to sell unaltered sea otter pelts to non-Alaskan Natives.
H.R. 2714 restarts the fur trade by stripping the requirement that sea otter fur be altered into traditional handicrafts or artifacts before being sold by Alaskan Natives. Wholesale harvests of sea otters for their fur will again be legal.
H.R. 2714 allows for the unrestricted and unlimited selling of sea otter fur to businesses for commercial production. Hats, clothing, footwear and all other manner of items could be commercially produced out of sea otter fur for the broader market anywhere in the country.
This has happened before and it nearly destroyed the species.
Tell your representatitive to oppose the start of a new fur trade that could undo all the progress that the sea otter population has made.
Learn more at http://www.seaotters.org/alaska.html
Sea otters once numbered in the hundreds of thousands along the Pacific rim from Baja Mexico to Japan until hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries decimated the species to make commercial items from their fur. Northern Sea otters have only recently begun to recover under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it illegal for these otters to be hunted except by Alaskan Natives. They, too, can only sell items made from sea otters if it is sufficiently altered into a traditional artifact or handicraft.
H.R. 2714 opens up the general market to the commercialization of sea otter fur into mass-produced items like clothing and other accessories by circumventing the requirement that sea otter fur be significantly altered before being sold to the general public.
Under this bill, it will be legal again to sell unaltered sea otter fur to commercial interests, essentially restarting the fur trade that nearly exterminated the sea otter.
The sea otter is both an apex predator and a keystone species, making it an animal we can hardly afford to lose. Numerous studies have confirmed that sea otters promote the growth of extremely biodiverse kelp forests by feeding on sea urchins, which left unregulated by sea otters, can grow to extreme numbers and devastate kelp forests by feeding on the holdfasts that anchor kelp to the rocky sea floor.
Left to thrive, kelp forests are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems in the world, even eclipsing most tropical rainforests and coral reefs in some respects. This ecosystem does everything from serving as a habitat and nursery for a variety of fish and invertebrates to carbon sequestration and erosion control. And all this hinges heavily on the presence of the sea otter.
Please consider all aspects and outcomes of H.R. 2714. Vote No to protect the sea otter and our nearshore environment.