CSSJR 17(RES): Requesting that the National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States Congress act immediately to reverse the decline of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population and to regulate the harvest of the beluga whales in Cook Inlet until the beluga whale population has recovered.
00CS FOR SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17(RES) 01 Requesting that the National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States 02 Congress act immediately to reverse the decline of the Cook Inlet beluga whale 03 population and to regulate the harvest of the beluga whales in Cook Inlet until 04 the beluga whale population has recovered. 05 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 06 WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible under the 07 Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) for management and protection of beluga whales 08 in Alaska; and 09 WHEREAS NMFS has concluded that, although the data on population trends of Cook 10 Inlet beluga whales are incomplete, the Cook Inlet beluga whale population appears to have 11 declined in recent years while harvest levels have increased substantially; and 12 WHEREAS NMFS has concluded that the Cook Inlet beluga whale population was 13 at least 650 in 1994; and 14 WHEREAS the most recent NMFS surveys place the Cook Inlet beluga whale
01 population at a minimum of 347; and 02 WHEREAS environmental groups have recently petitioned NMFS to list the Cook 03 Inlet beluga whale population as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered 04 Species Act; and 05 WHEREAS listing of this population under the Endangered Species Act would have 06 significant negative effects on the economies of Cook Inlet as well as the entire state; and 07 WHEREAS there are procedures under the MMPA that provide for the regulation of 08 the harvest of marine mammals; and 09 WHEREAS NMFS has apparently been reluctant to use its existing authority under 10 the MMPA allowing for the regulation of harvests; and 11 WHEREAS continued delays by NMFS could further contribute to the decline in the 12 Cook Inlet beluga whale population; and 13 WHEREAS the MMPA also specifically authorizes the Secretary of the United States 14 Department of Commerce to enter into cooperative agreements with Alaska Native 15 organizations to conserve marine mammals; 16 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the 17 National Marine Fisheries Service to immediately begin the process of reviewing the status 18 of Cook Inlet beluga whales to determine whether the status under the Marine Mammal 19 Protection Act should be changed; and be it 20 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests that 21 the United States Congress immediately consider legislation amending the Marine Mammal 22 Protection Act to require the National Marine Fisheries Service to regulate the harvest of Cook 23 Inlet beluga whales in cooperation with the local Native subsistence users until the population 24 has recovered; and be it 25 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests that 26 the United States Congress provide the National Marine Fisheries Service with adequate 27 financial resources to secure, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 28 and the local subsistence users, the information and management tools necessary to ensure that 29 the Cook Inlet beluga whale population is not placed in jeopardy, that Alaskans dependent on 30 the beluga whale resource are not unnecessarily penalized, and that associated industries in 31 the state are not placed at risk.
01 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable William M. Daley, Secretary 02 of the United States Department of Commerce; and to the Honorable Ted Stevens and the 03 Honorable Frank Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. 04 Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.