About the Refuge

Skiff bow headed for islands in Gulf of Alaska photo by Ian Shive

The Refuge's 3.4 million acres include the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain, the seabird cliffs of the remote Pribilofs, and icebound lands washed by the Chukchi Sea, providing essential habitat for some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species.

Much of the refuge has been protected as a national wildlife refuge for over a century, and we recognize that refuge lands are the ancestral homelands of Alaska Native people. Development of sophisticated tools and the abundance of coastal and marine wildlife have made it possible for people to thrive here for thousands of years.

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge stretches across the traditional homelands of the Unangax̂ in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands, as well as smaller parcels on the homelands of Alutiiq/Sugpiak, Yup’ik/Cup’ik, Iñupiat, Dena'ina, Tlingit, Haida, and Eyak peoples.
Our mission is to conserve, protect, and restore the diverse lands, waters, wildlife, and cultural resources of the Refuge through excellence in education, outreach, and a program of scientific research on marine resources.

So many facets of Alaska’s history happened on the lands and waters of the Alaska Maritime Refuge that the Refuge seems like a time-capsule story of the state and the conservation of island wildlife. Learn more.

    The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 set forth the following major purposes for establishing and managing the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The five purposes of the Refuge are:

    1. Conserve the refuge’s animal populations and habitats in their natural biodiversity . . .including, but not limited to marine mammals, marine birds and other migratory birds, the marine resources upon which they rely, bears, caribou and other animals.
    2. Fulfill international treaty obligations of the United States relating to fish and wildlife and their habitats.
    3. Provide opportunities for continued subsistence uses by local residents. (in a manner consistent with purposes number 1 and 2)
    4. Conduct national and international scientific research on marine resources. (in a manner consistent with purposes number 1 and 2)
    5. Ensure water quality and quantity within the refuge (to the maximum extent practicable and in a manner consistent with purpose number 1)