August 15, 2006

Special Rule for SW Sea Otter Final Today
TASSC Commissioner Changes
Changes to TASSC Executive Committee
TASSC Planning Session Held

Special Rule for SW Sea Otter Final Today- August 15, 2006
The Final Rule to create a Special Rule for the Southwest Alaska Distinct Population Segment of northern sea otters was published August 15, 2006 in the Federal Register. This special rule pertains to the population of sea otters that were listed as threatened on August 9, 2005. This includes sea otters in Kamishak Bay (lower Cook Inlet) west through the Aleutians.

This special rule allows for:

  • Limited, non-commercial import and export of articles of authentic Alaska Native Handicraft that were derived from sea otters from the listed population. This allows foreign tourists to take home handicrafts containing sea otter for non-commercial purposes,
  • Cultural exchange by Alaska Natives with Natives from Canada, Russia, and Greenland,
  • Transfer of raw pelts to registered agents and tanneries in the lower 48, and
  • Amends the current federal regulations (50 CFR 17.3) to remove the requirement that an authentic Alaska Native handicraft be commonly produced on or before December 28, 1973. This definition change is consistent with court rulings on the issue.

These changes allow sea otter subsistence activities that were occurring prior to the listing to continue. This special rule makes the regulations for the listed population consistent with the rules and regulations for sea otter subsistence for the rest of Alaska.

This special rule is effective on September 14, 2006.

For further information, contact TASSC staff or Charles Hamilton, USFWS, at (907) 786-3800 or


Subsistence take in the affected areas cannot be currently regulated or restricted.

Even though sea otters in SW Alaska have been listed, sea otter harvest in other areas of Alaska cannot be regulated or restricted because this portion of the Alaska sea otter population is listed.

It is still legal for coastal Alaska Natives to make and sell within the United States handicrafts that contain sea otter.

Related Downloads:

FAQs: Sea Otters and the ESA
Final Rule to list SW Sea Otter as Threatened Under the ESA
Special Rule for the SW Alaska Distinct Population of the Northern Sea Otter

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TASSC Commissioner Changes
TASSC would like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to Claude Kuzakin, Aleutian/Pribilofs Commissioner, Dolly Garza, Southeast Commissioner, and Patrick Kosbruk, Bristol Bay Commissioner, for all of their hard work and enthusiasm they brought to TASSC in representing their regions.

Claude Kuzakin served over fourteen years on the Commission. Claude was deeply involved in the implementation of TASSC’s Small Boat Survey Program in the Aleutian/Pribilofs and strongly advocated on behalf of his region.

Dolly Garza served on the Commission since 1993 and devoted the “early years” working for the reauthorization of the MMPA and the benefits of co-management. She consistently dedicated her time and knowledge to further TASSC’s vision and programs in Southeast Alaska.

Patrick Kosbruk served on the Commission from 2002- 2005. Patrick actively represented the Bristol Bay region during his tenure with the Commission. He strongly advocated for local interests and promoted good communication and coordination.

Claude, Dolly, and Patrick passionately represented their regions. TASSC is a better organization because of their service. We thank them for all of their time, energy, and ideas.

At this time we would like to welcome Myra Olsen and John Lind, appointed by the Bristol Bay Native Association in November 2005 to represent their region. A traditional hunter and gatherer, Myra cares deeply about marine mammal issues and has served as Chair for the Bristol Bay Marine Mammal Council since its inception in 1995. Myra also currently serves on RurAL CAP, IPCoMM, and is Treasurer for Bristol Bay Native Association (BBNA) Board of Directors, among others. John Lind has also been deeply involved with issues concerning his region and sits on the BBNA Executive Committee as the Peninsula Sub-Regional Representative and BBNA’s Full Board of Directors. John is also Chairman for the Chignik Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

We would also like to welcome Patty Lekanoff-Gregory to the Commission. She was appointed in December 2005 to represent the Aleutian/Pribilof Region. Patty has served on many commissions and boards, including her tribal council and presently, her village corporation. She also teaches Aleut culture and crafts to students in Unalaska and travels throughout the state to teach the almost-lost art of Aleut Bentwood hat and visor making.

Since their appointments, Myra, John, and Patty have advocated for their respective regions and the sound management of sea otters and sea lions.

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Changes to TASSC Executive Committee
At TASSC’s February 2006 Board of Commissioners’ meeting the following changes to the Executive Committee were made. Due to Vice-Chair Garza’s recent resignation, the position of Vice-Chair was open for nominations. Patrick Norman of Port Graham was elected Vice-Chair, previously serving on TASSC’s Executive Committee as both Secretary and Treasurer. Following Patrick’s election as Vice-Chair, both Secretary and Treasurer positions were open for nominations, in which Myra Olsen of Egegik was elected Secretary, and Mark King was elected Treasurer.

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TASSC Planning Session Held
In a continuing effort to effectively plan for the future and to incorporate Alaska Native tribal concerns and issues into its on-going planning effort, TASSC Board of Commissioners and staff met with tribal representatives, hunters and artisans in February 2006 to identify key areas of concern, priorities for the future and ideas for future actions.

While there were a wide range of ideas, issues and concerns discussed, four main themes emerged – marketing, resource/habitat management, research, and education/training:

Marketing of sea otter/Steller sea lion products is a continuing challenge for Native artisans. Participants identified the need for (1) a stronger support network for marketing products, (2) education and training for artisans as well as the education of consumers, and (3) assistance with a variety of international regulatory barriers facing artisans/cultural performers.

Resource/Habitat Management Issues
Strong consensus was formed that sea otter/Steller sea lion resource and habitat management issues continue to be critical. Participants identified the need to continue development of management plans and to plan for, research and manage critical habitat. Additionally, participants expressed concern about the “nuisance factor” created by large numbers of sea otters/Steller sea lions and the tensions created between subsistence and commercial interests.

Research is also an area of great importance to TASSC and to Alaska Native tribes. Participants identified the need for better communication of science and research to tribes, communities and local residents. Currently, there seems to be a “disconnect” between those participating/conducting research studies and the local tribes, communities and residents as to the research findings, outcomes and impacts. Additionally, there seems to be a great deal of misinformation about issues concerning sea otter/sea lions among tribes, communities and residents.

There is a great need for education and training, which covers a broad spectrum of subject matters and issues. Participants identified the need for education and training on laws and regulations, hunting standards and traditions, traditional uses and contemporary skills, and product marketing.

The results of the Planning Session are currently being incorporated into TASSC’s Strategic Plan.

TASSC’s Planning Session Report

TASSC’s Strategic Plan


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