tribes take big step to resume whaling off Washington | At national scale

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Seattle (AP) – Administrative law judges have recommended that Native American tribes in Washington be allowed to hunt gray whales again. This is a major milestone in decades of efforts to reclaim ancient customs.

“It’s a testament to what we’ve been saying over the past few years. We are doing everything we can to show that we are moving forward responsibly, ”said Makah’s vice president. Patrick Depot said the Olympic Peninsula is Friday. “We are not doing this for commercial reasons. We do this for spiritual and cultural reasons.

Depot attended high school in the late 1990s when Maka was last licensed to hunt whales. Angry protests from animal rights activists threw smoke grenades at whalers and sprayed fire extinguishers in their faces.

Since then, the tribal attempts have been linked by legal objections and scientific journals. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled in 2002 that the Makahs needed an exemption under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The tribe applied in 2005 but has yet to receive it.

About two years after presiding over a hearing on NOAA Fisheries’ proposal to approve the exemption, Administrative Judge George Jordan issued a 156-page recommendation to the US Department of Commerce, regarding tribal hunting. I decided no. A global population of healthy whales.

The recommendations, along with a public comment period and further environmental scan, do not set a timeline for this, but inform the ministry’s final decision.

As proposed, this exemption allows tribes to land up to 20 gray whales in the eastern North Pacific over a 10-year period.

Jordan decided issuing an exemption was appropriate, but also recommended additional restrictions that could significantly reduce the number of whales killed by the tribe. You will likely have five whales with a 10-year exemption period. DePoe said the tribe was considering the recommendation, but called it a potential source of frustration and debate.

The tribes want to use the whales for food and make handicrafts, works of art and tools that they can sell.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Animal Welfare Institute oppose the hunt. They may have inadequate environmental assessments from NOAA, the Marine Mammal Protection Act may have revoked the tribe’s treaty rights, and the tribe may not claim survival or the cultural need to hunt decades later. Insisted.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said in an email Friday that it was reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment. The Animal Welfare Institute did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Evidence submitted to the government shows that the Makahs, who now number around 1,500 members, have been whaling for over 2,700 years. The tribe’s 1855 treaty with the United States reserved “the right to whale fish and hunt or seal it in the usual familiar places.”

The Makahs continued whaling until the 1920s and gave up whaling because commercial whaling destroyed the gray whale population. Whale populations had recovered in the eastern Pacific in 1994 and are now estimated at 27,000 and have been removed from the endangered species list.

The Makahs have been trained in the ancient ways of whaling for months and have been blessed by federal authorities and the International Whaling Commission. They flew through the water in 1998, but were unsuccessful the following year until they caught a gray whale in a hand-carved cedar canoe with a harpoon. A member of the Electric Support Boat tribe killed him with a powerful rifle to minimize his suffering.

The depot welcomed the returning whalers in a canoe as they towed the whales, and the high school store class cleaned the bones and reassembled the skeletons hanging in the tribal museum.

“The bond between us and the whale is strong,” he said. “The northwestern tribes have always seen themselves as stewards of the land and animals. We are not doing anything to help deplete these resources. Hmm. “


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