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The Fur Seal Act (“Act”) is a U.S. federal legislation to protect fur seals and sea otters. It was enacted in 1966. The Act prohibited the taking, transportation, importing or possession, of fur seals and sea otters. However, the Act provides certain exceptions to this rule. The Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos who dwell on the coasts of the North Pacific Ocean are permitted to take fur seals and dispose of their skins. Seals may be taken only for subsistence purposes as defined in the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Act specifically aims to protect the northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) from the commercial sealing trade. It also regulates the exhibition and scientific research of fur seals. The Act also restricts humans from entering fur seal rookeries.
Pursuant to the Act, the Secretary of Interior (“Secretary”) is authorized to conduct scientific research on the fur seal resources of the North Pacific Ocean. Title II of the Act provided for the Secretary to continue to administer the Pribilof Islands as a special reservation for the purpose of conserving, managing, and protecting the North Pacific fur seal and other wildlife, and to provide the Pribilof Island natives with facilities, services, and equipment. The Act authorized the Secretary to sell sea otter skins and products forfeited to, or seized by the U.S. Proceeds are to be deposited in the Pribilof Islands Fund.
The Act prohibits most persons or vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction from taking fur seals in the North Pacific or on any U.S. lands or waters. Using U.S. harbors and ports for illegal taking of fur seals is also prohibited.