This is a wonderfully complex issue that you have captured well (“(Un)welcoming Waters,” July 5). On balance, the return of sea otters is hugely important to the long-term health and productivity of our precious nearshore ecosystems in California and Oregon. If we want ecological resilience and productivity to support healthy fisheries, it is essential we include all creatures, not just the ones that are convenient.
I chuckled at the assertion that “Everybody knows that bringing them back is going to affect the crab industry.” Two peer-reviewed studies of the impacts of sea otters on commercial crabbing in California found no negative effects.
Stories of sea otters chowing down on Dungeness crab in southeast Alaska have alarmed crabbers in California and Oregon, but the situations are completely different. Sea otters in southeast Alaska live in a complex, diverse and relatively shallow environment, which is also where Dungeness crab harvest and other shellfisheries take place. By contrast, sea otters in California and Oregon live on a long, straight coast with relatively limited sea otter habitat. Crabbing generally occurs in waters farther offshore, deeper than sea otters prefer. So the jury is out on whether the crab industry will be affected and if so, where and by how much.
If we want to ensure a resilient, productive nearshore marine ecosystem for our grandchildren and beyond, we simply have to put sea otters back to work in their former habitats.
Good article (“Hidden,” July 5) on a local treasure, Norman Solomon. I too am opposed to a third party. Until we have proportional representation, a parliamentary system, a third party will not work.