Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Sierra Club favors legislation to prohibit all hunting and harassment of marine mammals, with the exception of:

  1. occasional specimens captured for scientific research and zoos,
  2. hunting by American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, etc., for the sole use of their families, and
  3. carefully managed seal fisheries (sometimes called "harvests"), so long as these activities do not endanger marine mammal populations.

Adopted by the Executive Committee, August 21, 1971; ratified by the Board of Directors, February 5-6, 1972 [Note: the Marine Mammal Protection Act became law October 21, 1972]


The Sierra Club urges the International Whaling Commission to manage the whaling industry on a more rational basis, to allocate sufficient funds for whale research, to provide an adequately large team of observers to implement the International Observer Plan, and to seek sufficient appropriations for effective operation of the Commission. The Club also urges the U.S. Department of State to encourage whale product import limitations -- and if necessary bans--in other nations.

Adopted May 1-2, 1971

Bowhead Whales

The Sierra Club recommends that any solution of the current controversy over the imposition of the International Whaling Commission quota on the take of bowhead whales in Alaska should observe the following principles:

  1. Overriding priority must be given to the continued viability of the bowhead whale species.
  2. The Alaska Eskimos should be involved in the preparation of the U.S. policy on the bowheads and in future meetings of the International Whaling Commission which deal with matters relating to the bowhead.
  3. Native subsistence uses of the bowhead should be the only use in any take permitted.
  4. The necessary resources must be committed to the task of gathering better scientific data on the bowhead to allow the establishment of an informed management program for the bowhead. The research should solicit and encourage the cooperation and the support of Eskimo whalers.
  5. There must be careful regulation of any subsistence taking allowed in the near future with strict quotas on the number of whales struck, whether they are landed or not . . .

The Sierra Club urges the federal government to conduct a thorough, ongoing study of the population of the species, numbers of whales harvested, and methods for improving the manner and means of the hunt in coordination with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and other interested parties.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, November 5-6, 1977

Purse-Seining of Porpoises; Tuna Boycott

The Sierra Club supports . . . the nation-wide boycott of yellowfin tuna only (which is canned as "light meat" tuna) pending definite and significant evidence that the language and spirit of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to "reduce porpoise mortality and serious injury to insignificant levels approaching zero" is firmly met. This policy is solely to protect porpoise killed and injured during the purse-seine method of fishing "on porpoise" and therefore does not apply to albacore, bonita or tuna caught by other methods.

Adopted by the Board or Directors, December 7-8, 1974

North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty

The Sierra Club supports continuation of the Interim Convention of North Pacific Fur Seals.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, February 2-3, 1980

Antarctic Seal Hunting

The Sierra Club finds no justification for the opening of the Antarctic Treaty Area to commercial exploitation of seals, and we urge the State Department to negotiate a treaty that will effectively close the Antarctic Treaty Area, including the high seas, to any commercial exploration of wildlife.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, February 5-6, 1972