Rep. Don Young Fights For Alaskan Native Hunters And Craftsmen
October 25, 2011
The House Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing today on H.R. 2714, a bill sponsored by Alaskan Congressman Don Young. If passed, H.R. 2714, would permit the interstate sale of sea otter pelts and the export of handicrafts, garments, and art made from such pelts of the Southcentral or Southeast Alaska northern sea otter stocks that are taken for subsistence purposes. In parts of Alaska such as Southeast and Southcentral Alaska, the sea otter population has grown so large that it is having a harmful effect on other species. Between the abalone fishery being closed since 1996 and the sea otter predation of many urchin and sea cucumber species, Alaska’s economy has been impacted greatly and has seen losses in excess of tens of millions of dollars.
“Alaska’s sea otter population has grown too large and too quick to the point that it is starting to have a negative impact on Alaska’s economy,” said Rep. Young. “By authorizing the domestic sales of pelts and the exportation of handicrafts; the market would increase for both Alaska Native hunters and craftsmen alike and provide a greater incentive for harvesting sea otters.”
“This past week at the Annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, many of my constituents reinforced what I have been hearing for years. Too many of my Alaskan Native hunters and craftsmen fear that their subsistence rights are being infringed upon due to the questionable law enforcement techniques by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Enough is enough; I will not stand for this blatant abuse of power. The subsistence provisions were included in the Marine Mammal Protection Act to protect cultural traditions and increase economic opportunities for Alaskan Natives, not create an environment of distrust between the Federal government and Alaskan Natives. I look forward to working with Members of the Committee to ensure this crucial bill is passed, because too much is at stake.”