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CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION OF NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS

Washington, 7 May 1976

The Governments of Canada, Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist 
Republics, and the United States of America,

Desiring to take effective measures towards achieving the maximum 
sustainable productivity of the fur seal resources of the North 
Pacific Ocean so that the fur seal populations can be brought to 
and maintained at the levels which will provide the greatest 
harvest year after year, with due regard to their relation to the 
productivity of other living marine resources of the area,

Recognizing that in order to determine such measures it is 
necessary to conduct adequate scientific research on the said 
resources, and

Desiring to provide for international cooperation in achieving 
these objectives,

 Agree as follows:

Article I

1. The term "pelagic sealing" is hereby defined for the purposes 
of this Convention as meaning the killing, taking, or hunting in 
any manner whatsoever of fur seals at sea.

2. The words "each year", "annual" and "annually" as used 
hereinafter refer to Convention year, that is, the year beginning 
on the date of entry into force of the Convention.

3. Nothing in this Convention shall be deemed to affect in any way 
the position of the Parties in regard to the limits of territorial 
waters or to the jurisdiction over fisheries.

Article II

1. In order to realize the objectives of this Convention, the 
Parties agree to co-ordinate necessary scientific research 
programs and to cooperate in investigating the fur seal resources 
of North Pacific Ocean to determine:

a) what measures may be necessary to make possible the maximum 
substainable productivity of the fur seal resources so that the 
fur seal populations can be brought to and maintained at the 
levels which will provide the greatest harvest year after year; 
and

b) what the relationship is between fur seals and other living 
marine resources and whether fur seals have detrimental effects on 
other living marine resources substantially exploited by any of 
the Parties and, if so, to what extent.

2. The research referred to in the preceding paragraph shall 
include studies of the following subjects:

1. The Interim Convention adopted at Washington on February 9, 
1957, has been amended by a Protocol adopted at Washington on 
October 8, 1963, by exchanges of notes which entered into force on 
September 3, 1969, and by a second Protocol adopted at Washington 
on May 7, 1976.

a) size of each fur seal herd and its age and sex composition;

b) natural mortality of the different age groups and recruitment 
of young to each age or size class at present and subsequent 
population levels;

c) with regard to each of the herds, the effect upon the magnitude 
of recruitment of variations in the size and the age and sex 
composition of the annual kill;

d) migration routes of fur seals and their wintering areas;

e) numbers of seals from each herd found on the migration routes 
and in wintering areas and their ages and sexes;

f) relationship between fur seals and other living marine 
resources, including the extent to which fur seals affect 
commercial fish catches, the damage fur seals inflict on fishing 
gear, and the effect of commercial fisheries on the fur seals;

g) effectiveness of each method of sealing from the viewpoint of 
management and rational utilization of fur seal resources for 
conservation purposes;

h) quality of sealskins by sex, age, and time and method of 
sealing;

i) effect of man-caused environmental changes on the fur seal 
populations; and

j) other subjects involved in achieving the objectives of the 
Convention, as determined by the Commission established under 
Article V, paragraph 1.

3. In furtherance of the research referred to in this Article, the 
Parties agree: 

a) to continue to mark adequate numbers of pups;

b) to devote to pelagic research an effort which, to the greatest 
extent possible, should be similar in extent to that expended in 
recent years, provided that this shall not involve the annual 
taking by all the Parties combined of more than 2,500 seals in the 
Eastern and more than 2,200 seals in the Western Pacific Oceans, 
unless the Commission, pursuant to Article V, paragraph 3, shall 
decide otherwise, and 

c) to carry out the determinations made by the Commission pursuant 
to Article V, paragraph 3.

4. Each Party agrees to provide the Commission annually with 
information on:

a) number of black pups tagged for each breeding area;

b) number of fur seals, by sex and estimated age, taken at sea and 
on each breeding area; and 

c) tagged seals recovered on land and at sea;

and, so far as is practicable, other information pertinent to 
scientific research which the Commission may request.

5. The Parties further agree to provide for the exchange of 
scientific personnel; each such exchange shall be subject to 
mutual consent of the Parties directly concerned.

6. The Parties agree to use for the scientific pelagic research 
provided for in this Article only government-owned or government-
chartered vessels operating under strict control of their 
respective authorities. Each Party shall communicate to the other 
Parties the names and descriptions of vessels which are to be used 
for pelagic research.

Article III

In order to realize the purposes of the Convention, including the 
carrying out of the co-ordinated and co-operative research, each 
Party agrees to prohibit pelagic sealing, except as provided in 
Article II, paragraph 3 in the Pacific Ocean north of the 30th 
parallel of north latitude including the seas of Bering, Okhotsk, 
and Japan by any person or vessel subject to its jurisdiction.

Article IV

Each Party shall bear the expense of its own research. Title to 
seal-skins taken during the research shall vest in the Party 
conducting such research.

Article V

1. The Parties agree to establish the North Pacific Fur Seal 
Commission to be composed of one member from each Party.

2. The duties of the Commission shall be to:

a) formulate and co-ordinate research programs designed to achieve 
the objectives set forth in Article II, paragraph 1;

b) recommend these co-ordinated research programs to the 
respective Parties for implementation,

c) study the data obtained from the implementation of such co-
ordinated research programs;

d) recommend appropriate measures to the Parties on the basis of 
the findings obtained from the implementation of such coordinated 
research programmes, including measures regarding the size and the 
sex and age composition of the seasonal commercial kill from a 
herd and regarding a reduction or suspension of the harvest of 
seals on any island or group of islands in case the total number 
of seals on that island or group of islands falls below the level 
of maximum sustainable productivity; provided, however, that due 
consideration be given to the subsistence needs of Indians, Ainos, 
Aleuts, or Eskimos who live on the islands where fur seals breed, 
when it is not possible to provide sufficient seal mat for such 
persons from the seasonal commercial harvest or research 
activities; and

e) study whether or not pelagic sealing in conjunction with land 
sealing could be permitted in certain circumstances without 
adversely affecting achievement of the objectives of this 
Convention, and make recommendations thereon to the Parties at the 
end of the twenty-first year after entry into force of the 
Convention.

3. In addition to the duties specified in paragraph 2 of this 
Article, the Commission shall, subject to Article II, paragraph 3, 
determine from time to time the number of seals to be marked on 
the rookery islands, and the total number of seals which shall be 
taken at sea for research purposes, the times at which such seals 
shall be taken and the areas in which they shall be taken, as well 
as the number to be taken by each Party, taking into account any 
recommendations made pursuant to Article V, paragraph 2(d).

4. Each Party shall have one vote. Decisions and recommendations 
shall be made by unanimous vote. With respect to any 
recommendations regarding the size and the sex and age composition 
of the seasonal commercial kill from a herd, only those Parties 
sharing in the seal-skins from that herd under the provisions of 
Article IX, paragraph 1 shall vote.

5. The Commission shall elect from its members a Chairman and 
other necessary officials and shall adopt rules of procedure for 
the conduct of its work.

6. The Commission shall hold an annual meeting at such time and 
place as it may decide. Additional meetings shall be held when 
requested by two or more members of the Commission.

7. The expenses of each member of the Commission shall be paid by 
his own Government. Such joint expenses as may be incurred by the 
Commission shall be defrayed by the Parties by equal 
contributions. Each Party shall also contribute to the Commission 
annually an amount equivalent to the value of the sealskins it 
confiscates under the provisions of Article VI, paragraph 5.

8. The Commission shall submit an annual report of its activities 
to the Parties.

9. The Commission may from time to time make recommendations to 
the Parties on any matter which relates to the fur seal resources 
or to the administration of the Commission.

Article VI

In order to implement the provisions of Article III, the Parties 
agree as follows:

1. When a duly authorized official of any of the Parties has 
reasonable cause to believe that any vessel outfitted for the 
harvesting of living marine resources and subject to the 
jurisdiction of any of the Parties is offending against the 
prohibition of pelagic sealing as provided for by Article III, he 
may, except within the territorial waters of another State, board 
and search such vessel. Such official shall carry a special 
certificate issued by the competent authorities of his Government 
and drawn up in the English, Japanese, and Russian languages which 
shall be exhibited to the master of the vessel upon request.

2. When the official after searching a vessel continues to have 
reasonable cause to believe that the vessel or any person on board 
thereof is offending against the prohibition, he may seize or 
arrest such vessel or person. In that case, the Party to which the 
official belongs shall as soon as possible notify the Party having 
jurisdiction over the vessel or person of such arrest or seizure 
and shall deliver the vessel or person as promptly as practicable 
to the authorized officials of the Party having jurisdiction over 
the vessel or person at a place to be agreed upon by both Parties; 
provided however, that when the Party receiving notification 
cannot immediately accept delivery of the vessel or person, the 
Party which gives such notification may, upon request of the other 
Party, keep the vessel or person under surveillance within its own 
territory, under the conditions agreed upon by both Parties.

3. The authorities of the Party to which such person or vessel 
belongs alone shall have jurisdiction to try any case arising 
under Article III and this Article and to impose penalties in 
connection therewith.

4. The witnesses or their testimony and other proofs necessary to 
establish the offense, so far as they are under the control of any 
of the Parties, shall be furnished with all reasonable promptness 
to the authorities of the Party having jurisdiction to try the 
case.

5. Sealskins discovered on seized vessels shall be subject to 
confiscation on the decision of the court or other authorities of 
the Party under whose jurisdication the trial of a case takes 
place.

6. Full details of punitive measures applied to offenders against 
the prohibition shall be communicated to the other Parties not 
later than three months after the application of the penalty.

Article VII

The provisions of this Convention shall not apply to Indians, 
Ainos, Aleuts, or Eskimos dwelling on the coast of the waters 
mentioned in Article III, who carry on pelagic sealing in canoes 
not transported by or used in connection with other vessels, and 
propelled entirely by oars, paddles, or sails, and manned by not 
more than five persons each, in the way hitherto practiced and 
without the use of firearms; provided that such hunters are not in 
the employment of other persons or under contract to deliver the 
skins to any person.

Article VIII

1. Each Party agrees that no person or vessel shall be permitted 
to use any of its ports or harbors or any part of its territory 
for any purpose designed to violate the prohibition set forth in 
Article III.

2. Each Party also agrees to prohibit the importation and delivery 
into and the traffic within its territories of skins of fur seals 
taken in the area of the North Pacific Ocean mentioned in Article 
III, except only those taken by the Union of Soviet Socialist 
Republics or the United States of America on rookeries, those 
taken at sea for research purposes in accordance with Article II, 
paragraph 3, those taken under the provisions of Article VII, 
those confiscated under the provisions of Article VI, paragraphs 
5, and those inadvertently captured which are taken possession of 
by a Party; provided however, that all such excepted skins shall 
be officially marked and duly certified by the authorities of the 
Party concerned.

Article IX

1. The respective Parties agree that, of the total number of 
sealskins taken commercially each season on land, there shall at 
the end of the season be delivered a percentage of the gross in 
number and value thereof as follows:

By the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

   To Canada     15 per cent 
   to Japan      15 per cent 

By the United States of America

   to Canada     15 per cent 
   to Japan      15 per cent

2. Each Party agrees to deliver such sealskins to an authorized 
agent of the recipient Party at the place of taking, or at some 
other place mutually agreed upon by such Parties.

3. The respective Parties will seek to ensure the utilization of 
those methods for the capture and killing and marking of fur seals 
on land or at sea which will spare the fur seals pain and 
suffering to the greatest extent practicable.

Article X

1. Each Party agrees to enact and enforce such legislation as may 
be necessary to guarantee the observance of this Convention and to 
make effective its provisions with appropriate penalties for 
violation thereof.

2. The Parties further agree to co-operate with each other in 
taking such measures as may be appropriate to carry out the 
purposes of this Convention, including the prohibition of pelagic 
sealing as provided for by Article III.

Article XI

 The Parties agree to meet in the twenty-second year after entry 
into force of the Convention to consider the recommendations in 
accordance with Article V, paragraph 2(e) and to determine what 
further agreements may be desirable in order to achieve the 
maximum sustainable productivity of the North Pacific fur seal 
herds.

Article XII

Should any Party consider that the obligations of Article II, 
paragraphs 3, 4, or 5 or any other obligation undertaken by the 
Parties is not being carried out and notify the other Parties to 
that effect, all the Parties shall, within three months of the 
receipt of such notification, meet to consult together on the need 
for and nature of remedial measures. In the event that such 
consultation shall not lead to agreement as to the need for and 
nature of remedial measures, any Party may give written notice to 
the other Parties of intention to terminate the Convention and, 
notwithstanding the provisions of Article XIII, paragraph 4, the 
Convention shall thereupon terminate as to all the Parties nine 
months from the date of such notice.

Article XIII

1. This Convention shall be ratified and the instruments of 
ratification deposited with the Government of the United States of 
America as soon as practicable.

2. The Government of the United States of America shall notify the 
other signatory Governments of ratifications deposited.

3. The Convention shall enter into force on the date of the 
deposit of the fourth instrument of ratification.

4. The Convention shall continue in force for twenty-two years and 
thereafter until the entry into force of a new or revised fur seal 
convention between the Parties, or until the expiration of one 
year after such period of twenty-two years, whichever may be the 
earlier; provided, however, that the Convention shall terminate 
one year from the day on which a Party gives written notice to the 
other Parties of an intention of terminating the Convention.

5. At the request of any Party, representatives of the Parties 
will meet at a mutually convenient time within ninety days of such 
request to consider the desirability of modifications of the 
Convention.

6. The original of this Convention shall be deposited with the 
Government of the United States of America, which shall 
communicate certified copies thereof to each of the Governments 
signatory to the Convention.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, being duly authorized by 
their respective Governments, have signed this Convention.

Done in Washington this ninth day of February 1957, in the 
English, Japanese, and Russian languages, each text equally 
authentic.