Senators Urged Not to Consider Renewal of Treaty on Killing of Pribilof Islands Seals

Associated Press

Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska) urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday not to consider the renewal of a four-nation treaty allowing the killing of seals in the Pribilof Islands of the Bering Sea off Alaska.

Murkowski told the committee that discussions had “failed to resolve one particular point,” which he described as “what is the disposal right of the pelts and the other things” that the residents of St. Paul Island have sold from their annual killing of North Pacific fur seals.

The islanders “have the right to dispose of that residue,” he said. The agreement worked out between animal welfare groups opposed to the hunt and J. Anthony Smith, a lawyer representing the islanders, would have permitted “subsistence” hunting for meat under Commerce Department regulations. Those regulations forbid the commercial sale of pelts.

The islanders currently are engaged in a subsistence hunt under temporary regulations.