Resolution on Antarctic Seals

WHEREAS, those seals found in waters surrounding Antarctica (which include the South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis), crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus), Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossi), leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddelli), and southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina)) inhabit the pack ice in international waters; and

WHEREAS, these seals are not protected from sealing operations in these waters by the Antarctic Treaty or any other agreement; and

WHEREAS, these stocks are an important biological resource, probably exceeding in the aggregate of their numbers all other seal stocks in the world; and

WHEREAS, nationals of Norway have already undertaken experimental sealing operations in Antarctic waters and other nations may in the not too distant future send sealing expeditions there; and

WHEREAS, the United States is interested in the preservation of marine mammal stocks at healthy and viable population levels; and

WHEREAS, we have not forgotten the disastrous results of unregulated sealing that occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries or the inadequately regulated whaling activities of recent years; and

WHEREAS, the opportunity is before us to establish an international agreement for the rational conservation of Antarctic seal stocks prior to the commencement of regular Antarctic sealing operations; and

WHEREAS, it will be more difficult to obtain such an agreement after exploitation begins;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Society of Mammalogists encourages the Congress and other appropriate officials of the United States to negotiate an international agreement which would establish quotas, sealing zones and seasons, and require all sealing expeditions to gather appropriate biological materials and information necessary to the understanding of the population dynamics of the exploited seal stocks; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that certain species (specifically the fur seal, Ross seal, and elephant seal) be given complete protection; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a committee of scientists be established by the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty to study all biological and population information, and that all sealing activities will be regulated in accordance with the findings of the Committee so that no species numbers will at any time be reduced below the maximum sustainable yield.