(ENS, 8 October 2009) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska - It took a court order to accomplish, but threatened sea otters in southwest Alaska now will have some respite from the pressure of human activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday designated 5,855 square miles of nearshore waters along the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea, and Alaska Peninsula as critical habitat for the northern sea otter, Enhydra lutris kenyoni. The Service does not anticipate that this critical habitat designation will result in any closure of commercial fishing in southwest Alaska because sea otters eat bottom-dwelling creatures of no commercial value and spend most of their time in shallow water close to the shore. The agency took this action under a court order resulting from a lawsuit against the Service by the Center for Biological Diversity. "Critical habitat has a proven record of aiding the recovery of endangered species," said Rebecca Noblin, a staff attorney with the Center in Anchorage. "We are pleased that habitat for threatened Alaska sea otters will finally be protected. With the habitat protections of the Endangered Species Act now extended to sea otters in Alaska, this iconic species has a fighting chance of recovery."
Posted 10 October 2009; 4:04:01 PM. Permalink