Saturday, January 17, 2009

Selling vintage fur seal coat prohibited by ebay

I decided to sell the fur seal instead of cutting it up and making mittens or hats, but ebay pulled the listing after 2 hours because I violated their marine animals policy. I can only sell it if it's cut up and resown by a certified Alaskan Native who remakes it into an authentic Alaskan Native craft. ebay's message to me explained that there are many international laws and regulations that control the sale of marine animal products, they didn't cite an exact law, they just cited something called CITES.

So I did a search at CITES for fur seal resale and waded through this long list of species and gave up looking for the exact parameters for resale of sewn fur seal. CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA
International Environment House • Chemin des Anémones • CH-1219 Châtelaine, Geneva • Switzerland, Tel: +41 (22) 917 81 39/40 • Fax: +41 (22) 797 34 17 • Email: • Web:, Appendices I, II and III valid from 1 July 2008:

ebay's questions page suggested I visit Prince Phillip's benevolant World Wildlife Fund (which has a box on Big Mother's Game Plan: Checkmate) for further information on protected species.
"Marine Mammal Products: Marine mammal products, including but not limited to, sea otter, whales (baleen and ivory), porpoise, dolphins, and seals, generally may not be listed for sale unless the animal part has been first transformed into an authentic Alaskan Native article of handicraft or clothing. The export/import of marine mammals typically requires CITES as well as other state and/or federal permits. Users should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or National Marine Fisheries Service before importing or exporting marine mammal products."

An amazing fact that came out of my little research hunt into this regulated fur seal coat is that what Tim told me about seal hunting is true; he said whenever the government banned the managed hunting, the seal populations grew too large and a bunch of them died of starvation. Of course the official account of this says the reason for their dying off since the 1970s is mysteriously unknown. (CITE appears to have more scholarly articles on this topic.)

So I went looking and found the Federal Fur Seal Act of 1966, which looks like it was more about taking over the people's lives on the Pribalof Islands than protecting the seals. When the federal government regulators say "subsistance" do they actually mean subsistance on government grants? Or do they just not know how many Alaskan Natives they helped to become dependent on their government programs? I wonder what life is like now in the Pribalofs compared to the 1950s. Probably be a lot like comparing the logging and fishing town of Ketchikan, a bustling center of commerce and trade in the 70s to what it looked like when I went back in 2004. It was a "living ghost town", like Chitina, like what's become of so many old towns and city commerce centers across America today. Our people see it, I know they do.

Gee, I must be a stupid American, but I just don't understand how my fur seal coat, authenticated as a Fouke Fur which was the U.S. Government's Fur Company until the 1960s does not have a white people grandfather clause or something. So what happened to all the fur seal coats in the world? Do people hide them in their closets? That could be why this one looks like it's never been worn. How can a fur hide that was tanned by an American fur company and then made into a coat by a tailor in Pittsburgh be authentic Native Alaskan? Maybe Ada Wilson will sew a couple beads on it for me.

Ah well, back to the drawing board. I've been putting on my marketing/fundraising hat and thought selling the coat was a pretty good idea. No wonder I'm always broke. I suck at marketing. I bet if I had been raised in Soviet Russia I'd know how to get around this kind of challenge. Is there a black market ebay? (just kidding!)

Wonder how many mothers will be just as stunned to learn they cannot even GIVE away their children's clothes and toys, let alone sell them on ebay or at garage sales. I hope this doesn't put me on ebay's "no buy" list. I hope all young mothers are buying up everything they can, may even be worth it to rent storage space to keep it "safe."


The Scavenger said...

I'm not sure of their policy but you may check Craigslist. Maybe get a local buyer that way too, with quick cash. Very interesting post. The gov. can screw just about anything up, even a yardsale. lol

Stay Warm,

Anonymous said...

Niki, you are not alone... pretty soon all livestock owners will not be able to sell unless they can authenticate a premises id and then become harmonized with the United Nations OIE rules and regulations.

All of America is becoming harmonized with the WHO, OIE and FAO.

Glad to hear the Gertee held up in the winds we had high winds but then sitting between 2 glaciers doesn't help but no damage.


the tent lady said...

I emailed ebay and asked for the exact law they use and they restated that it's their policy. heh. There is no law, just a nice communitarian "soft" pressure in the form of unwaverable policy.

Their response email added that if I plan to sell it as Authentic Native I must have the name and tribal affiliation of that person. Ada Wilson already said I can use her name; I called her to see if she'd sew a few beads on it for me and make it "authentic."

Craigslist is an option, but since I don't live near any urban area, my "local" buyer's base is extremely limited.

As much as I know about the absurdity of communitarian regulations, I still can't help but try to figure out how to comply without screwing myself in the process. I think that is what most Americans will do when they're faced with the new requirements. It just goes against my nature to scam a way around a bs rule, and that may be why I fought so hard, head on, to question the legality of the invasive programs in Seattle.

So Gisela, give us an update. How goes the effort to educate Alaskan farmers and animal owners as to the nature and origin of the Premises ID program?

Man, what will our people do when they are told by Big Mother they have to register their farms and get permission to buy or sell livestock? What did the rural folks in England and Europe do? Didn't the mad cow disease crisis and the bird flu crisis make it almost impossible for them to protect their animals from slaughter? I'd guess if too many people squawk, before it becomes mandatory here we'll need a crisis of our own.

I love it that you use the word harmonize Gisela, harmonization of norms is the exact phrase they use. You've been studying. :)

and yeah, those winds were too intense! I think it's over, been raining all night with no winds. I heard some gossip about the conditions in the Bowl... what a nightmare. At least here I didn't need to drive anywhere. Valdez is flooding... it's just crazy.

the tent lady said...

And, yes Chris I am staying warm, thank you! Hard not to in 34 above. :) Staying dry is the goal today.

Here's the 1998 Alaska statute on Food Safety and State and Federal Regulations. (Doesn't admit to any international compliance). One process for taking private property in Seattle was under their "public nusiance abatements". Apparently, if an owner is deemed an "unfit" owner their property can be abated in "the public interest":

{begin quote}
"An agricultural product in violation of a regulation is deemed “a public nuisance injurious
to the public interest” and may not be moved except by specific instruction of the commissioner
or inspector.
Routine inspection of food animals is required in order to protect the public from disease.
All domesticated animals and poultry are subject to inspection and testing for diseases.
After inspection and testing, the inspector shall determine if the animal is subject to quarantine, slaughter, or destruction.
Animals or poultry found to have any contagious disease
are subject to quarantine, slaughter, or destruction.
The inspector sets the conditions and length of time for quarantine. The inspector may condemn and determine the manner of
slaughter or destruction. Reimbursement is allowed only for the slaughter or destruction of dairy cattle.
The Commissioner or an authorized veterinarian shall issue emergency orders to prevent the spread of infectious disease among livestock and poultry. These orders may include provisions for the care or for the extermination of the stock. These orders may “prohibit
transportation of the stock and products derived from the stock, with compensation to owners as
authorized by law.”
174" {end quote}

How does the Premise ID program align with this Alaska Statute?

And I always like it when people have coffee and cookies at their garage sales... and as Lark knows, often their children sell the food. I'm wondering if that is all against the law too? (Should ask some kids about this.)

Will these new public health and safety regulators, the ones who will go out enforcing one set of regulations, also be cross trained in interdepartmental programs to log their observations of "other" kinds of violations with all the other enforcement agencies in the public private partnership?? A public nuisance abatement needs a strong case even in their kangaroo courts. The more violations they have on a specific property, the more urgent the need to protect the public from that bad owner.

How can owners defend themselves against communitarian regulations without becoming a "bad" person?

Bobby Garner said...

"How can owners defend themselves against communitarian regulations without becoming a "bad" person?"

As long as they take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, they cannot easily deny our rights. But of course, that is of no help if we do not know what our rights are.

When I was served a notice of a nuisance violation in 2000, I was given 10 days to request a hearing. I used those 10 days to prepare my presentation. The violation involved two unlicensed vehicles parked on one of the streets adjoining my property (I live on a corner). The notice read that the violation existed on property on my corner of those streets. It did not give the legal description of my property, because they know they have no authority to do that.

During those ten days, I built a privacy fence around a back corner and on the 9th day (a Sunday), I moved the vehicles behind the fence.

At the meeting, the Mayor began by saying, "I went by your placec today, and I didn't see those trucks. What did you do with them?"

Now we could have had an interesting discussion about that, but I replied, "No, I didn't request this meeting to talk about my trucks. I came here to ask the Council to provide a more specific description of the property where this alleged violation exists."

Of course they couldn't do that. One of the idiots at the table tried to explain why they had to write the notice as they did, but the Mayor interrupted him because he was just proving my case for me that they had no authority to specify my property.

They could only trick me into believing that the "property on the southwest corner" was in fact my property. My property is located on that corner, but I don't own the "property on the southwest corner". I own Lots described in my Deed by Lot number, Range and Township. If they wanted to pursue a violation on my property, they would have to use its legal description.

The Mayor and I proceeded to engage in light casual conversation for about ten minutes, then he concluded with: "The Council has no further issues to discuss concerning the property at the southwest corner" of those streets.

I excused my self and left with the Council's collective mouth hanging open in wonderment at what just happened.

A few weeks later, I walked over to the scene of a house demolition with my camera, and the Mayor came over to me and commented on how well my place looked. But in fact, the two houses they destroyed that day were in much better shape than mine.

This Mayor was also the facilitator who brought Communitarian Law to my small western town of about 300.
The idiot Council member who tried to explain the Cities action, was also the concerned citizen who made the complaint.

The Angry Cheese. said...

Here in England, and the whole of the UK, we can at present still sell or give away second hand children's and baby clothes, and toys.
It is still possible here, when visiting the countryside, to stop at the roadside and buy eggs, plums, apples, tomatos, potatoes - any vegetable etc. from householders. A farmhouse near me sells oven-ready geese they keep themselves. Honey and jam (jelly)is sold from people's homes, bedding plants, all sorts of plants,etc.
I feel sure this will all be changing soon though.
It is interesting that some issues are more in the forefront in some parts of the world than others - it's as if "they" are trying out different schemes all over the place. I bet there is something else draconian going on or being planned in Australia and New Zealand, or elsewhere.
For info. on BSE in Britain read about the late Mark Purdey.

Anonymous said...

I too, own a beautiful seal coat that belonged to my mother. She bought it legally, in 1967 in Goose Bay, Labrador. It's in beautiful shape, it has always been stored in a dark cool closet. I have just discovered that I have no earthly way to sell it. What a shame, as it exists, and will continue to exist despite well-meaning but badly written laws. There are very few things in life in the US tht the Government has not mucked up restricted,or completely ruined. Eco-Nazi's are taking over the world. In the US, our president is plotting with the Environment Protection Agency to take over all of our lakes, rivers & streams. In some places already we are being told we are not allowed to even fish on our own property. Things are completely out of control.

Anonymous said...

Plus contact me at Ronnie is
my name.

Anonymous said...

As recent as 1 week ago ebay allowed the sale of a
seal coat. Did you use the word vintage. I'm "guessing" that may have something to do with the
listing. Your hurting seal now. It's already a coat.How would allowing the listing promote anything other then sale. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I know I'm A bit late to join the conversation, but if your fur seal coat is pre-1966 (Pre the Fur Seal Act) or it is another species of seal besides northern fur seal that is pre-1973 (Pre The Marine Mammal Protection Act), it is PERFECTLY LEGAL TO SELL in the US because it is CITES EXEMPT.
The reason ebay banned selling seal skin was because of the seal clubbing in Canada. ONLY in the US does ebay not sell vintage seal skin, you can sell it on ebay in Canada, the EU, ect... as I have seen in many listings. This was all due to the negative media of the seal hunt that pushed ebay into banning the sale of seal skin in the US, which by the way has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the Canadian Seal Hunt at all BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN ILLEGAL TO IMPORT SEAL FROM CANADA SINCE 1973. All the seal fur and marine mammal parts you find in the US are either pre-1973 (for international parts) or made by Alaskan natives if they are new. Ebay is just being a piece of sh*t. I own a ton of vintage seal which I bought all on ebay because people didn't list it as seal (and I mean I own a full length Canadian-Inuit ringed-seal parka, a purse with a matching belt and wallet, slippers, boots, a blanket, and a hat, how the hell ebay missed all that sealskin I don't know). You can totally sell it on ebay, you just need to know how to beat around the bush. If you are still looking to sell, make a new ebay account with a fake/new/unused email and don't put "seal fur" in the listing. List it as a mint vintage sheared fur and take a picture of the tag or stamp on the pelts that say "seal fur". Just a trick how other people are getting around ebay's bullsh*t. Hopefully someone won't be an ass and report you, but if they do, just start the process over until you can sell it. Good luck!