SJR 13: Urging the United States Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act and urging the United States Department of the Interior to permit Alaska Native organizations and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to co-manage, take, and study marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
00 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 13 01 Urging the United States Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act and 02 urging the United States Department of the Interior to permit Alaska Native 03 organizations and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to co-manage, take, and 04 study marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 05 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 06 WHEREAS, between 1965 and 1969, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 07 reintroduced approximately 400 sea otters in six different locations in Southeast Alaska's 08 coastal waterways without a long-term management plan; and 09 WHEREAS, in the absence of a management plan, the sea otter population in 10 southern Southeast Alaska's coastal waters has grown at an alarming rate; while 5,800 sea 11 otters were observed in 2003, an aerial survey conducted by the United States Fish and 12 Wildlife Service in 2010 estimated the population at over 11,000, an apparent population 13 growth rate of 13 percent each year; and 14 WHEREAS the federal government, which is responsible for protecting marine 15 mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1361 - 1423h) has not
01 established an effective and ecologically balanced management plan for sea otters that serves 02 to protect Southeast Alaska's coastal marine ecosystem and shellfish resources that are 03 adversely affected by sea otters; and 04 WHEREAS a growing sea otter population appears to be contributing to ecological 05 imbalances and diminished human subsistence and commercial harvests of Alaska shellfish 06 resources; and 07 WHEREAS the reintroduced sea otter population has proliferated without 08 management, consuming unquantified yet significant volumes of crab, abalone, urchins, sea 09 cucumbers, clams, and other shellfish resources on which Southeast Alaska's human residents 10 rely; and 11 WHEREAS the drastic population growth of the reintroduced sea otters and the 12 current population density of sea otters has, in some areas, depleted shellfish stocks so 13 severely that human subsistence, sport, personal use, and commercial harvest of shellfish is 14 not permitted because of unsustainably depleted shellfish resources; and 15 WHEREAS many residents of the state's coastal communities depend, directly or 16 indirectly, on the abundance and harvest of fisheries resources; and 17 WHEREAS the state's coastal communities face substantial challenges in developing 18 economic opportunities for their residents; and 19 WHEREAS, because revenue from harvests of the state's fisheries resources 20 contributes significantly to the economies of the state's coastal communities, residents of 21 these communities are sensitive to situations that threaten the harvest of fisheries resources; 22 and 23 WHEREAS Alaska Natives have harvested sea otters since time immemorial; and 24 WHEREAS the Marine Mammal Protection Act denies Alaska Natives their 25 customary and traditional practice of selling intact sea otter pelts; and 26 WHEREAS the Marine Mammal Protection Act permits Alaska Natives to harvest 27 marine mammals for subsistence if the harvest is accomplished in a manner that is not 28 wasteful; and 29 WHEREAS the Marine Mammal Protection Act permits Alaska Natives to harvest 30 sea otters for purposes of creating and selling authentic Alaska Native handicrafts and 31 clothing if the sea otters are harvested in a manner that is not wasteful; and
01 WHEREAS, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Alaska Natives may sell 02 handicrafts and clothing made with sea otter pelts; and 03 WHEREAS the State of Alaska is a model for the successful and sustainable harvest 04 of fish and game resources; and 05 WHEREAS federal implementation of a sustainable sea otter management regime 06 would maintain sea otter populations at a level that allows for ecological balance in the state's 07 coastal shellfish habitat and provide for expanded economic activity in the state's coastal 08 regions; and 09 WHEREAS, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the United States Secretary 10 of the Interior is permitted to enter into cooperative agreements with Alaska Native 11 organizations to conserve marine mammals and provide co-management of subsistence 12 resources by Alaska Natives, and such an agreement could include a management plan for the 13 harvest of sea otters that also protects shellfish resources adversely affected by an 14 unsustainable sea otter population; 15 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the appropriate federal 16 agencies to work with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Southeast Alaska's 17 Native and non-Native leaders to establish a plan for sea otter management that will maintain 18 a balance between sustainable human harvest of shellfish resources and the region's 19 reintroduced sea otter population; and be it 20 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges state and federal 21 agencies, in developing the management plan, actively to consider how the plan may expand 22 and enhance small businesses and provide other economic opportunities for Southeast 23 Alaska's residents; and be it 24 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States 25 Congress to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to expand the scope of allowable uses 26 for harvest of marine mammals; permit an Alaska Native to assign that individual's right to 27 take certain marine mammals to any individual with a hunting license issued by the State of 28 Alaska; and allow the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or an Alaska Native organization 29 authorized under a cooperative agreement with the United States Secretary of the Interior to 30 co-manage subsistence uses of marine mammals, including the authority to permit the sale 31 and foreign export of sea otter pelts; and be it
01 FURTHER RESOLVED that, when an Alaska Native organization or the Alaska 02 Department of Fish and Game certifies to the United States Secretary of the Interior, in 03 writing, that a marine mammal poses a threat to Alaska Native subsistence resources and that 04 the marine mammal may withstand higher levels of taking without becoming unsustainable, 05 and the Alaska Native organization or the department provides a management plan for the 06 study and taking of the marine mammal designed to protect other fishery resources used for 07 subsistence purposes, the Alaska State Legislature urges the Secretary to issue a scientific 08 permit to the department or Alaska Native organization to carry out the management plan; and 09 be it 10 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges that the scientific 11 permit issued by the United States Secretary of the Interior 12 (1) authorize the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or an Alaska Native 13 organization to take as many marine mammals as is necessary to protect other subsistence 14 fisheries resources; 15 (2) grant the department or Alaska Native organization the authority to administer the 16 management plan, including the plan's amendment or modification, as circumstances, 17 including changes in the sustainability of the marine mammal or other fisheries resources, 18 may dictate; and 19 (3) permit the department to delegate all or part of the agency's management authority 20 to an Alaska Native organization. 21 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Paul D. Ryan, Speaker of 22 the U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable Orrin Hatch, President pro tempore of the 23 U.S. Senate; the Honorable Ryan Zinke, United States Secretary of the Interior; and the 24 Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the Honorable Dan Sullivan, U.S. Senators, and the 25 Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.