Date of Award

1986

Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

The North pacific fur seals of Alaska's Pribilof Islands have been subjected to commercial harvest for nearly 200 years. The harvest has been regulated under international agreement almost continuously since 1911; first under the 1911 North Pacific Fur Seal Convention, and following that under the 1957 Interim Convention on Conservation of North Pacific Fur Seals. Both Conventions banned pelagic sealing and divided the restricted land harvest among the four member states, the United States, Canada, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Management under the 1911 convention resulted in a steady increase in the severely depleted fur seal herd, restoring the population to pre-exploitation levels. The 1957 Convention was less successful in achieving its stated population goal, and expired in 1984 when the u.S. voted against re-ratification. The Pribilof fur seal population, now protected under the Marine mammal Protection Act, has been declining steadily since 1974. While evidence indicates that entanglement in discarded fishing gear plays a major role in the decline, research into this and other factors affecting fur seal population dynamics is necessary. International cooperation and regulation of disposal of fishing gear at sea may be required in order to effectively protect the northern fur seal herd.