Co-Management of Marine Mammals in Alaska

Alaska Natives have a long history of self-regulation, based on the need to ensure a sustainable take of marine mammals for food and handicrafts. Co-management promotes full and equal participation by Alaska Natives in decisions affecting the subsistence management of marine mammals (to the maximum extent allowed by law) as a tool for conserving marine mammal populations in Alaska.

Section 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (Public Law 103-238) allows NOAA Fisheries or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish agreements with Alaska Native Organizations (ANOs), including, but not limited to, Alaska Native Tribes and tribally authorized co-management bodies. Individual co-management agreements shall incorporate the spirit and intent of co-management through close cooperation and communication between Federal agencies and the ANOs, hunters and subsistence users. Agreements encourage the exchange of information regarding the conservation, management, and utilization of marine mammals in U.S. waters in and around Alaska.

The best available scientific information, and traditional and contemporary Alaska Native knowledge and wisdom (TKW), are used for decisions regarding Alaska marine mammal co-management, to the extent allowed by law. Existing ethical principles for the conduct of research shall be applied. Under Section 119 agreements, marine mammal stocks should not be permitted to diminish beyond the point at which they cease to fulfill their role in their ecosystem or to levels that won’t allow for sustainable subsistence harvest.

Agreements may involve: 1) Developing marine mammal co-management structures and processes with Federal and State agencies; 2) Monitoring the harvest of marine mammals for subsistence use; 3) Participating in marine mammal research; 4) Collecting and analyzing data on marine mammal populations.

Cooperative Agreements

Through Section 119 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-238) NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are granted authority to enter into cooperative agreements with Alaska Native organizations (ANOs).

Alaska Beluga Whale Committee

Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission

Aleut Marine Mammal Commission

Alaska Native Harbor Seal Commission

Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council

  • Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council was disbanded by unanimous vote of the then CIMMC member Tribes' representatives on 6/20/2012.

Ice Seal Committee

Indigenous People's Council for Marine Mammals

  • Memorandum of Agreement for Negotiation of Marine Mammal Protection Act Section 119 Agreements between the Department of Commerce, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Geological Survey and the Indigenous People's Council for Marine Mammals.
  • Agreement, October 2006
  • Agreement, August 1997
  • Indigenous People's Council for Marine Mammals

Traditional Council of St. George Island

Tribal Government of St. Paul

Related Information

Learn more about the Alaska Protected Resources Division