B.C.'s coast overcome with ornery otters
VANCOUVER - The sea otter population on the West Coast is growing, and along with it the marine mammal's appetite for shellfish.
But as the sea otter rebounds from near extinction, First Nations and other shellfish harvesters along B.C.'s coast say it's hurting their bottom line.
Simon Fraser University Prof. Anne Salomon received a $150,000 fellowship to study how human interference on marine life is changing food chains along the coast of B.C. and Alaska
Salomon says there is evidence showing the current number of sea otters is just a third of what it once was over 100 years ago, but no one is sure.
Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the BC Shellfish Grower's Association, says otters are considered a protected species by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, but they shouldn't be, because there are already too many wreaking havoc on wild shellfish populations.
The Pew Fellowship will allow Salomon to work with local communities, First Nations communities and experts for three years, gathering oral histories and scientific data to figure out the positive and negative impacts of increasing otters.