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TASSC FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
 

Sea Otter Related:
Who can hunt sea otters?
Now that sea otters in Southwest Alaska are listed under the Endangered Species Act, will hunting be shut down or regulated by the U.S. Federal Government?
Will hunting in other areas of Alaska be regulated if Southwest sea otters are listed?
Do I need a permit?
Is there a season or bag limit on sea otters?
What do I have to do once I've shot a sea otter?
What can I do with the pelts?
Do I have to be Native to sew with sea otter pelts?
Can I use sea otter fur from prior to the 1972 MMPA Act?
If I am non-native, can I accompany someone on a sea otter hunt?

Steller sea lion Related:
Is it legal to hunt Steller sea lions and who can take them?
Are there any federal regulations governing the take of Steller sea lions by Alaska Native subsistence users?
Do I need a permit to hunt sea lion?
Is there a hunting season or quota for Steller sea lions?
What would happen if hunting seasons or quotas were deemed necessary?
Do I need to have my subsistence hunted Steller sea lion tagged or certified?
Can Steller sea lions be used for handicraft?
What is the difference between a rookery and a haulout?

FAQ's regarding Beach Combing and Non-Natives:
Who may collect beach found parts?
Where can beach found parts be collected?
What parts may be collected?
What other marine mammal parts may be collected?
Are there reporting requirements for beach found parts?
What about fossil ivory?


Sea Otter Related:
Who can hunt sea otters?
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), Alaska Natives living along the North Pacific or Arctic Ocean are the only people who may harvest sea otters. When the act was passed, Congress recognized the cultural importance of marine mammals to Alaska Native peoples, and included an Alaska Native exemption for their take for subsistence or handicraft, provided that marine mammals are not taken in a wasteful manner. A similar exemption for continued Alaska Native subsistence exists in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Because the MMPA definition is more restrictive in terms of who may harvest marine mammals for subsistence, the ESA definition is overruled.

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Now that sea otters in Southwest Alaska are listed under the Endangered Species Act, will hunting be shut down or regulated by the U.S. Federal Government?
No. Like the MMPA, the ESA has an Alaska Native exemption (Section 10(e)) that provides for harvest of a listed species for subsistence or handicraft, provided that the take is not wasteful. Sea otters found in SW Alaska were listed as threatened under the ESA in August 2005. The geographic area includes: Kamishak Bay, Barren Islands, Kodiak Island, North Alaska Peninsula, South Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians. Sea otters in those areas are included under the ESA and are automatically considered depleted under the MMPA. The U.S. Federal government, in order to regulate or shut down hunting, must show that subsistence harvest is a major threat to the species, and is “materially and negatively affecting” the species. Since harvest levels have not been a major threat to the survival of the species, the U.S. Federal government cannot regulate sea otter harvests. However, to ensure the continuation of the ability to use our resources for subsistence purposes, harvests must be done wisely.

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Will hunting in other areas of Alaska be regulated if Southwest sea otters are listed?
No. The only sea otters that have been listed are found in SW Alaska. Sea otters in eastern Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Southeast are not affected by the listing. Populations in these areas are stable or increasing. In order for U.S. Federal government regulations to occur, it must be shown that subsistence harvest is a threat to the survival to the species and the affected stock must be declared depleted under the MMPA.

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Do I need a permit?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no permit requirement for sea otter hunting. However, some Alaska Native Tribal governments may have local sea otter harvest regulations, including permit requirements. Prior to hunting, it is respectful to know if any Alaska Native Tribal government regulations exist. Additionally, some areas may have restrictions on the use of firearms in certain areas, such as within city limits. Prior to hunting, it is important to know if any firearm restrictions exist.

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Is there a season or bag limit on sea otters?
There are no U.S. Federal government restrictions on the taking of sea otters for coastal Alaska Native subsistence as long as such practices do not contribute to the demise of the species. However, any Alaska Native Tribal Government has the ability to develop regulations on when and where hunts may occur. It is important to check with the local Tribal government to see if any regulations exist. In recognition that an ESA listed species may be important for Alaska Native subsistence, Secretarial Order No. 3225 Endangered Species Act and Subsistence Uses in Alaska (Supplemental to Sec. Order 3206) was signed on January 19, 2001. The order establishes a consultation framework and reiterates the Government to Government requirements for ESA implementation in Alaska. If hunting seasons or quotas are deemed necessary and/or proposed, government to government consultation on these issues must occur.

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What do I have to do once I've shot a sea otter?
The sea otter’s skull and pelt must be tagged by a representative of the USFWS within 30 days of the harvest. Taggers are available in most villages. It is important to tag your otters as there are large fines for not tagging. Tagging is an important way of keeping track of the sea otter population and the number harvested. If you need your sea otters tagged, TASSC is a tagger.

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What can I do with the pelts?
Under both the MMPA and ESA, sea otter pelts can be used for personal subsistence purposes or for the making of handicrafts. Subsistence purposes include food, clothing and other uses necessary to maintain the life of the hunter or those who depend on the hunter. Handicrafts are defined as items that are not mass-produced and, are significantly altered from the tanned skin form. They should be decorated or fashioned with traditional methods including stitching, sewing and lacing. Handicrafts can be sold to Natives and non-natives. Raw or tanned pelts can be sold or traded to other Alaska Natives or to registered agents for resale or transfer to Alaska Natives within Alaska. Raw pelts cannot be sold or traded to non-natives.

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Do I have to be Native to sew with sea otter pelts?
CFR's state that you must be 1/4 Alaska Native. The MMPA states that you must be an Alaska Coastal Dwelling Native.

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Can I use sea otter fur from prior to the 1972 MMPA Act?
Yes. If it is pre-1972, anyone can use or possess these furs.

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If I am non-native, can I accompany someone on a sea otter hunt?
Yes, but you can not assist the hunt in any way (I.e. - operating skiff/boat, spotting sea otters to hunt, etc.).

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Steller sea lion Related:
Is it legal to hunt Steller sea lions and who can take them?
Under the MMPA, Alaska Natives who dwell on the coast of the North Pacific or Arctic Ocean are the only people who may harvest Steller sea lions. When the act was passed, U.S. Congress recognized the cultural importance, and included an Alaska Native exemption for their take for subsistence or handicraft, provided that marine mammals are not taken in a wasteful manner. A similar exemption for Alaska Native subsistence exists in the ESA. However, because the MMPA definition is more restrictive in terms of who may harvest marine mammals for subsistence, the ESA definition is overruled.

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Are there any federal regulations governing the take of Steller sea lions by Alaska Native subsistence users?
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the federal agency mandated with managing the Steller sea lion under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, there are no federal regulations governing the Alaska Native take of Steller sea lion. However, NMFS is responsible for ensuring that sea lion use is consistent with the law and that harvest is not done in a wasteful manner.

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Do I need a permit to hunt sea lion?
NMFS has no permit requirement for Steller sea lion hunting. However, some Alaska Native Tribal Governments may have local Steller sea lion harvest regulations. Check with the local tribal government to see if any exist. Additionally, some communities may have restrictions on the use of firearms in certain areas, such as within city limits. Prior to hunting, it is important to know if any firearm restrictions exist.

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Is there a hunting season or quota for Steller sea lions?
There are no U.S. Government restrictions on the taking of Steller sea lions for coastal Alaska Native subsistence as long as such practices do not contribute to the demise of the species. However, any Alaska Native Tribal Government has the ability to develop regulations on when and where hunts may occur. It is important to check with the local tribal government to see if any regulations exist.

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What would happen if hunting seasons or quotas were deemed necessary?
In recognition that an ESA listed species may be important for Alaska Native marine mammal subsistence, Secretarial Order No. 3225 Endangered Species Act and Subsistence Uses in Alaska (Supplemental to Sec. Order 3206) was signed on January 19, 2001. The order establishes a consultation framework and reiterates the Government to Government requirements for ESA implementation in Alaska. If hunting seasons or quotas are deemed necessary and/or proposed, government to government consultation on these issues must occur.

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Do I need to have my subsistence hunted Steller sea lion tagged or certified?
No. There are no Federal requirements to have Steller sea lion parts tagged or certified within a certain time period. There is no Federal Marking, Tagging and Reporting Program for those species managed by NMFS (sea lion, fur seal, seals, whales).

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Can Steller sea lions be used for handicraft?
Yes. Handicrafts are defined as items that are not mass produced and are significantly altered from the raw or tanned skin form. Handicrafts can be sold to Alaska Natives and the general public. However, restrictions exist for the export of handicrafts containing Steller sea lion parts from the United States. For more information click here.

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What is the difference between a rookery and a haulout?
“Rookeries” are those sites where adult males actively defend territories, pups are born, and mating takes place. This can be termed “Rookery behavior,” which is clearly evident from early May through late June. “Haulout sites” are those where sea lions rest on land (haulout), but where few or no pups are born. The distinction between rookeries and haulout sites has become blurred during recent years as some sites traditionally listed as rookeries have produced few or no pups. Conversely, noteworthy numbers of pups have been counted during recent years at some haulout sites, such as the Chiswell Islands and Jude Island. It is important to remember that the presence of pups does not define a rookery. Rookery behavior begins when adult males actively defend territories, pups are born, and mating takes place.

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FAQ's regarding Beach Combing and Non-Natives:
Who may collect beach found parts?
Federal regulations allow the collection of parts by Non-Natives (and Natives) from some dead marine mammals found on the beach or land within ¼ mile of the ocean (including bays and estuaries), depending on land ownership.

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Where can beach found parts be collected?
Regulations vary depending on land ownership. It is the collectors responsibility to know whose lands they are visiting. Collectors should check for additional regulations established by individual landowners (Federal, State, or private) before removing any resource. Collection of all animal parts (including marine mammals) is prohibited on National Park Service lands.

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What parts may be collected?
Skulls, bones, teeth, or ivory from beach found sea otter, polar bear and walrus may be collected. The skins, meat and organs from these animals may not be collected. Animal parts (including marine mammals) of an archaeological or paleontological origin may not be collected from Federal or State lands.

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What other marine mammal parts may be collected?
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has responsibility for managing whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and porpoises. Detached hard parts, skulls and bones, from a non-endangered species may be collected. Most large whales (more than 25 feet in length) are endangered and parts cannot be collected.

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Are there reporting requirements for beach found parts?
Collected parts from sea otter, polar bear, and walrus must be presented to a Fish and Wildlife Service representative for registration and/or tagging. Parts from other marine mammal species must be registered with NMFS. Parts must be reported within 30 days of the find. Once these parts are registered, they become property of the finder and cannot be sold, traded, or given away without permission from the registering agency.

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What about fossil ivory?
Fossil ivory (including walrus, mammoth, and mastodon), archaeological and paleontological materials are regulated by an array of Federal and State laws and these items may not be collected on any State of Federal public lands. Fossil ivory may be collected on private lands with permission of the landowner. Fossil ivory collected on private lands is not regulated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and does not have to be registered.

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modified 5 December 2013

 
       

© 2005 The Alaska Sea Otter & Steller Sea Lion Commission 
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