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Is it illegal to posses otter parts if they were collected before international protection. For example if your great grandfather has a sea otter coat from 1890, is it illegal for you to possess it?

From: Shaun Larson, 11 October 2006

Response from John F. Organ, Ph.D.
Chief, Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I checked with our law enforcement division and this is the information they provided relative to sea otter:

For pre-MMPA (12/21/1972) items there are no restrictions as far as the MMPA is concerned, including sale. Pre-Act CITES still applies. If the person wanted to import the item there is a pre-MMPA certification/authorization process that is spelled out in 50 CFR 18.14.

MMPA is the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The following is the section cited from 50 CFR 18.14:


PART 18--MARINE MAMMALS--Table of Contents

Subpart B--Prohibitions

Sec. 18.14 Marine mammals taken before the Act.

(a) Section 102(e) of the Act provides in effect that the Act shall not apply to any marine mammal taken prior to December 21, 1972, or to any marine mammal product consisting of, or composed in whole or in part of, any marine mammal taken before such date. Such status may be established by submitting to the Director prior to, or at the time of importation, an affidavit containing the following:
(1) The Affiant's name and address;
(2) Identification of the Affiant;
(3) A description of the marine mammals or marine mammal products which the Affiant desires to import;
(4) A statement by the Affiant that to the best of his knowledge and belief, the marine mammals involved in the application were taken prior to December 21, 1972;
(5) A statement by the Affiant in the following language:

The foregoing is principally based on the attached exhibits which, to the best of my knowledge and belief, are complete, true and correct. I understand that this affidavit is being submitted for the purpose of inducing the Federal Government to permit the importation of __________ under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361-1407) and regulations promulgated thereunder, and that any false statements may subject me to the criminal penalties of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

(b) Either one of two exhibits shall be attached to such affidavit, and will contain either:
(1) Records or other available evidence showing that the product consists of or is composed in whole or in part of marine mammals taken prior to December 21, 1972. Such records or other evidentiary material must include information on how, when, where, and by whom the animals were taken, what processing has taken place since taking, and the date and location of such processing; or
(2) A statement from a government agency of the country of origin exercising jurisdiction over marine mammals that any and all such mammals from which the products sought to be imported were derived were taken prior to December 21, 1972.
(c) Service agents, or Customs officers, may refuse to clear marine mammals or marine mammal products for importation into the United States, pursuant to Sec. 14.53 of this subchapter, until the importer can demonstrate, by production of the affidavit referred in above or otherwise, that section 102(e) of the Act applies to all affected items.
(d) This section has no application to any marine mammal or marine mammal product intended to be imported pursuant to Sec. 18.21, Sec. 18.31 or Sec. 18.32 of this part.

[39 FR 7262, Feb. 25, 1974, as amended at 51 FR 17981, May 16, 1986]

Response provided 13 October 2006