ACTION ALERT!! DEMAND U.S. FISHERIES PERMANENTLY REVOKE MAKAH WHALING RIGHTS
- *** PLEASE CROSSPOST WIDELY ***
The Washington State Indian Tribe known as the "Makah" have brutally and ILLEGALLY killed a gray whale. This despicable act took place without the necessary permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service and in direct violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Makah Treaty of 1855, preserves the Indian Tribe's right to whale, however, after killing a female, juvenile gray whale in 1999, the Makah have been in the midst of court challenges brought by animal rights groups. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals twice ruled the tribe must procure an 'exception' from MMPA, before being allowed to legally continue whaling.
On Saturday, September 8th, 2007, the Makah broke U.S. federal laws by attacking [harpooning and shooting] a gray whale without the necessary federal authority to do so. Please email, call or fax NOAA officials demanding that the 5 Makah tribesmen involved in the slaughter be fined and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; demand that in light of the flagrant and contemptuous nature of the act, the Makah Treaty of 1855 be permanently rescinded.
PLEASE WRITE/CALL OR FAX NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES OFFICIALS AND DEMAND THAT MAKAH WHALING RIGHTS BE PERMANENTLY REVOKED!
Giving the Makah Tribe the exclusive right to hunt whales [under the 1855 Treaty] should be immediately and permanently withdrawn. The Makah have shown an ongoing contempt for not only the federal laws which the rest of U.S. society must abide by; but have proven themselves ethically and environmentally incapable of exercising responsible judgment in connection to a 'privilege' which should have been eliminated decades ago. Overall, whale populations are being depleted at an alarming rate. Disease, pollution, global warming, dwindling food sources, sonar disturbances and rogue whaling worldwide, have all taken a devastating toll on a species capable of producing only one calf per female, per year. No ONE group should be exempt from the global responsibility we ALL share for ensuring the continued survival of our whales.
While undoubtedly there are political implications to be considered in revoking Makah whaling rights under the 1855 Treaty; there are numerous concessions which can be made which are of GREATER economic and educational benefit to the Makah people. It is time to consider such possibilities. The Makah no longer fit the description of a group which hunts for 'subsistence' or true 'cultural' reasons...regardless of what the tribe would have the world believe. One need look no further for evidence of this than the hunt of 1999, in which the Makah availed themselves of cell phones, Coast Guard cutters, .50 caliber rifles, "spotters" via helicopters and every MODERN convenience possible, to track and kill their prey. It is blasphemous to call such a travesty the continuation of "Makah culture". The majority of the American public and indeed the international community, want an end to the slow, barbaric deaths of cetaceans by such primitive and repulsive means as whaling. It is an obscenity which has no place in a compassionate world of people with a moral conscience.
*** NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE ***
State/Federal Fisheries TeamTom.Meyer@...
Tel: 301-713-2334 x173
Tel: 301-713-2334 x174
MAKAH REBELS SHOOT & HARPOON WHALE
By BRAD WONG AND MIKE BARBER
Members of the Makah Tribe harpooned and shot a gray whale Saturday without federal permission to hunt, but authorities late in the day were trying to sort out conflicting information behind the killing.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker confirmed the hunt by five tribal members. The whale was one mile east of Neah Bay, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about a half-mile off shore and wasn't killed.
The Coast Guard detained the five tribal members and questioned them, said Mark Oswell, a National Marine Fisheries Service spokesman. They later were released to the tribe.
He did not know if they had been arrested and said the information he has received is preliminary. "Right now, it appears to be an illegal hunt," he said.
While federal authorities sorted through the information, tribal sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said no hunt was planned. It was one of several explanations for what happened Saturday.
A source close to the incident said a gray whale had become entangled in a buoy in the strait. The five tribal members, including several who participated in the tribes successful and legal 1999 hunt, sought permission from tribal leaders to kill the whale and received it, the source said.
Federal law would not have allowed tribal members to hunt and a hill a whale entangled in a buoy, several federal officials said.
The crew harpooned and shot the whale, but the Coast Guard took the crew into custody before it could finish the job, the source said.
A high-powered .50-caliber rifle was involved, federal authorities said. When the tribe hunted a whale with authorization from the federal government in 1999, the tribe was instructed to carry a high-powered rifle to kill the whale it quickly.
The Coast Guard heard about the incident late Saturday morning. The agency deployed three ships to the area off the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula to create a security zone. Washington State Patrol troopers also have responded.
Barney Burke, a freelance photographer from Port Townsend, watched the scene from a single-engine plane, flying about 4,000 feet above the water at 3:15 p.m.
He said the whale had at least a half-dozen orange floats attached to it. It appeared to be pulling a small boat. There were about a dozen other boats, including the Coast Guard and a fishing trawler nearby too, he said.
The Makah typically throw a harpoon attached to ropes with bright-colored floats to help spot the whale.
"It definitely seemed to be headed toward the reservation," said Burke. "There were about a dozen boats in the water. I didn't see any indication of confrontation."
The Makah Tribe has historically hunted whales, and its treaty of 1855 preserves its right to do so. It's the only U.S. tribe with a treaty right to hunt whales. After a 70-year moratorium, the tribe decided to conduct a whale hunt in the 1990s when gray whales were taken off the endangered lists, citing centuries-old cultural, spiritual and sustenance reasons.
But after the tribe resumed the hunts in 1999 and successfully killed a whale, it stopped in the face of court challenges by animal-rights and conservation groups and waited to negotiate a federal process to get a permit following court challenges.
The last action came in March 2006, when the National Marine Fisheries Service expanded the scope of public comment for an environmental study of the tribe's request to hunt gray whales. In 2005 the tribe sought a waiver of the Marine Mammals Protection Act moratorium on taking marine mammals, and on the effect of issuing quotas under an international agreement.
That came after the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals twice ruled the tribe must seek and win an exception from the marine mammal law before being allowed to legally whale ever again. Observers said seeking such a waiver was almost unheard of, and winning one would be unprecedented.
Saturday, tribal members at Neah Bay, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some members of the tribe, including some who went after the whale, are fed up with the delays in getting the permit and that they went hunting Saturday, asserting their tribal rights.
But there were other explanations.
Ben Johnson, chairman of the tribe, said Saturday afternoon that he was still working on finding out exactly what happen. "I can't tell you right off hand," he said. "We really don't know."
But he believes tribe members were in the water to practice hunting.
Opponents of whale hunting expressed surprise and anger over Saturday's hunt.
"It's really disconcerting that this has happened," said Kitty Block, vice president of the international arm of the Humane Society of the United States.
She noted that the U.S. is part of international agreements to tightly regulate whaling. For Makah tribal members to hunt a whale without a permit and outside the law puts the U.S. "in a very tenuous position" in trying to persuade other nations to follow international law on whaling, she said.
Block said the actions Saturday could undermine the tribe's effort to get a wavier from federal law to hunt whales.
Paul Watson, who was in Neah Bay eight years ago to try to stop the whale hunt, said the hunters must be prosecuted.
"It's illegal," said Watson, who heads the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has endorsed civil disobedience to save whales. "They should be prosecuted for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. ...I think what the Makah are trying to do is test the resolve of the U.S. government to enforce the law."
Brian Gorman, spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle, said federal officials had not received word that this act was going to take place.
Under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, people who harm whales could face up to $20,000 in fines and criminal penalties, he said.
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