Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VII No. 3 July 1998

Makah Whaling Update

by William Rossiter, CSI President

Many people ask "what can I do to help?" Here's one big way: U.S. readers of this Whales Alive! will find a brochure, "Gray Whales in Danger", outlining the Makah whaling issue and requesting that appropriate letters be written soon concerning the issue. The brochure is available to anyone from Will Anderson, PAWS, P.O. Box 1037, Lynwood, WA 98046 USA, phone: (425)787-2500, email: awillow@earthlink.net. In-depth information is available on the web at: http://www.paws.org/activists/whales. Please act as the brochure requests, and very soon, but please be polite above all; anyone who just expresses anger or insult will just help kill whales. CSI remains very closely involved with this challenging and complex issue. We work with a consortium of organizations and people that seek a peaceful and respectful solution to this issue that benefits both the Makah and gray whales. A video showing gray whales as they really are, along with many close interactive associations with people, was produced and sent to the Makah individually. Copies are also available from PAWS. CSI helped fund these efforts because the Makah have not yet killed any gray whales; there is still time. There are several other efforts underway to help the underlying problems that have brought the Makah to this crisis. We are very concerned that if whales are killed by the Makah the public response will be disastrous. Will Americans accept that whales can be killed here, particularly for ceremony? The Makah have many needs. They do not need to kill whales.

In May a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court (Washington, DC) by several coastal tour-boat operators, international animal welfare groups, and U.S. Rep. Metcalf charging that federal agencies ignored various environmental laws in granting permission for the Makah Indian Tribe to kill 4 gray whales annually. Also in May, a task force of federal, state, and local police and enforcement agents met with opponents of the Makah Tribe's planned fall 1998 gray whale hunt off Cape Flattery, WA, to seek ways to prevent violence during anticipated protests. As a sovereign nation although part of the U.S., the Makah want a larger role in law enforcement as the hunt will occur on their reservation. Makah whale hunters may plan to paddle out into the chilly waters off Neah Bay in October or November, though the crews being trained to hunt are not yet ready. Hoping the hunt will revive their cultural traditions, the Makah plan on using two traditional cedar canoes filled with eight-man crews. They will be accompanied by two large power boats. They plan to harpoon the whales and then try to kill them with a .50-caliber rifle. Some environmental groups say they plan to stop the hunt by scaring the whales away from the Makah hunters or blocking the canoes with their boats. The Makah may have several canoes in the water as decoys to confuse the expected protests, but only one equipped with the rifle and the whaling permit. To complicate the scene the weather will provide stormy, dangerous seas.

Go to next article: Update on the LFA and Other Ocean Noise or: Table of Contents.

© Copyright 1998, Cetacean Society International, Inc.

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