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The Ice Seal Committee (ISC), originally called the Ice Seal Working Group, was formed in December of 2004 and consisted of five delegates, one from each of the five regions where ice seals occur in Alaska. The purpose of the ISC as stated in the bylaws is "to preserve and enhance the marine resources of ice seals including the habitat; to protect and enhance Alaska Native culture, traditions, and especially activities associated with subsistence uses of ice seals; to undertake education and research related to ice seals." The ISC has identified the collection of harvest information as a priority. Collecting and reporting harvest information demonstrates concern for the resource and is an important contribution to management that federal managers have not been able to accomplish. The ISC has collaborated with ADF&G to compile all available ice seal harvest information into one document.  The ISC updates and approves the document on an annual basis. Here is the 2014 document. Please note on the "Use of Harvest Data" section on the first page: Extrapolation of this information is inappropriate until we understand more about harvest variability and community needs.

 Background

Ice seals (i.e. bearded, ringed, spotted, and ribbon seals) are important subsistence resources for many villages in western and northern Alaska.  They provide important sources of food and raw materials.  Although it is known that coastal communities rely on ice seals for nutritional and cultural needs, the harvest levels are generally not recorded and therefore the number of seals needed annually statewide is not documented.

The Ice Seal Committee (ISC) was established in 2003 during planning meetings with the Indigenous Peoples Council of Marine Mammals (IPCOMM) in response to community concerns about rapidly changing arctic environment conditions that directly affect ice seal habitat and hunter accessibility.  In December 2004, the By-Laws of the ISC were adopted.  The ISC is composed of 10 voting members, two from each of the five Alaska Native regions that use ice seals for subsistence: Bristol Bay Native Association (Bristol Bay), Association of Village Council Presidents (Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta), Kawerak, Inc. (Bering Straits), Maniilaq Association (Northwest Arctic) and the North Slope Borough (Arctic Slope).

The core purpose of the ISC is to preserve and enhance the marine resources of ice seals including the habitat; to protect and enhance Alaska Native culture, traditions, and especially activities associated with subsistence uses of ice seals; and to undertake education and research related to ice seals.  The core values of the ISC are:  Traditional Knowledge, Sharing, Community, Nutrition, Culture, Respect for Nature, and Bridging Local Knowledge and Western Science.

In 2006, the ISC and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) entered into an agreement for the co-management of Alaska Ice Seal Populations.  The purposes of this agreement are to:

  1. Promote the sustained health of Alaskan Ice Seals in order to protect the culture and way of life of Alaska Natives who rely on the harvest of ice seals for subsistence uses; and
  2. To advance co-management, research, and the use of traditional knowledge of Alaska Natives; and
  3. To provide information to subsistence hunters and the public at large.

On January 20, 2012, the ISC adopted the Ice Seal Management Plan.  The goals of the management plan are to:  maintain healthy ice seal populations in Alaska waters; provide for adequate subsistence harvest of ice seals; and protect hunting privileges for Alaska Native subsistence hunters.  The principles by which the members of the ISC will manage ice seals include components for conservation, harvest, use, reporting and monitoring, public involvement, research, and enforcement.

The North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management (NSB-DWM) has provided the basic administrative support for the ISC since 2009, which includes general administration to implement the co-management agreement.

Committee Members

The structure of the ISC is made up of representatives from five different regions that span the coast of Alaska starting at Bristol Bay then northward to the Canadian border (regions with polar sea ice). Representatives and their regions are as follows:

Association of Village Council Presidents - AVCP

  • Timothy Charles Andrew
  • Albert Simon

Bristol Bay Native Association - BBNA

  • Helen Aderman, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Sam Gosuk

Kawerak, Inc.

  • Brandon Ahmasuk
  • Benjamin Payenna

Maniilaq Association

  • Cyrus R. Harris
  • John Goodwin, Sr., Chair

North Slope Borough - NSB

The Executive Manager of the ISC is Mike Pederson.

Member and Alternate Contacts

List of Ice Seal Hunting Villages in Five Regions

map of 5 regions of ISC

Committee Documents

Ice Seal Committee By-Laws

Co-Management Agreement between the ISC and NMFS for Alaskan Ice Seal Populations

Ice Seal Management Plan, January 2012

Ice Seal Committee Declaration In response to the ESA listing of bearded and ringed seals in Alaska, the Ice Seal Committee passed and signed this Declaration at their annual meeting on January 25, 2013.  If you have questions, please contact Mike Pederson, Executive Manager at mike.pederson@north-slope.org.

The Subsistence Harvest of Ice Seals in Alaska - a Compilation of Existing Information, 1960-2013. This ADF&G report was approved by the Ice Seal Committee on March 5, 2014. Note on the "Use of Harvest Data" section on the first page: Extrapolation of this information is inappropriate until we understand more about harvest variability and community needs.

Partnerships

Department of Wildlife Management
North Slope Borough
P.O. Box 69
Barrow, Alaska 99723
907-852-0350
NSB-DWM contacts for the ISC:  Harry Brower, Jr., Mike Pederson, and Billy Adams

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Fairbanks, Alaska
ADFG contacts: Lori Quakenbush, Mark Nelson

Polar Ecosystems Program
National Marine Mammal Laboratory
NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
NOAA contacts: Peter Boveng and Michael Cameron

Committee Reports

Project Progress Report for ISC to NOAA, November 2011 to April 2012

Attachments for Progress Report Nov 2011 to Apr 2012

Final Report for: Support for the Co-management efforts of the Alaskan Ice Seal Comittee for ISC to NOAA, July 2008 to September 2012

Project Progress Report for ISC to NOAA, January to June 2012

Attachment for Progress Report Jan to June 2012

Project Progress Report for ISC to NOAA, May to October 2012

ISC Newsletter

ISC Newsletter - May 2016

ISC Newsletter - January 2015

ISC Newsletter - January 2013

Kotzebue Marine Mammal Newsletter - May 2012

The Harpoon, ISC - Spring 2010

More Information on Ice Seals

NMFS Regional Ice Seal website Information on Ice Seal Management (ESA listings, etc.), Co-Management, and Research.

NSB-DWM Ice Seal webpage Information on Ice Seal studies on the North Slope.

Here is the Ice Seal Subsistence Sampling Data Form used for collecting samples from hunters in the Barrow/Wainwright area and the Kaktovik area.

Seal and Walrus UME of 2011-12

 

Banner photo credit: Kate Stafford