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- January 15, 2002


Contact: Tami Drake or Jonathan Paul 541-944-9147
Sandy Abels 206-361-0736
Will Anderson 206-715-6414

$1.2 Million May Go to Whale Killing Efforts In Washington State, FOIA Documents Show
SEATTLE, WA - More than $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars may soon be used to fund the killing of whales off the coast here, according to documents received under the Freedom of Information Act.

The monies are being used to fund similar whaling practices practiced in Japan that are condemned by the U.S. government.

The Makah Tribe has requested funds in excess of $1,200,000 for a "research/enforcement" vessel to assist in the tribe's whale hunting activities. The documents further outline a request for $70,000 in salaries, fringe benefits, consultant fees and indirect costs relating to their request for a whale quota at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission to begin in Japan in May.

"Since the tribe's decision to revive its whaling tradition after a nearly 80 year hiatus, millions of dollars in public funds have been expended by federal, state and county governments on behalf of the tribe - to the detriment of the majority of citizens opposed to the inhumane and controversial killing of gray whales in Washington State," said Chuck Owens of Peninsula Citizens for the Protection of Whales.

The latest proposal from the tribe requests that the US Government provide funding for a vessel that can operate in rough seas 40 miles off the Pacific Coast, which is rich in many species of whales and other marine mammals that migrate through all months of the year.

"We are neither shocked nor surprised at the request for funds for a vessel. We have stated from the beginning that the tribe intends to step up their "cultural" whaling activity and to include other species of whales.

Now it appears they want the US government to pay for it," added U.S. Citizens Against Whaling President, Sandy Abels. According to Jeff Pantukhoff of the Whaleman Foundation: "The Makah tribe's request to obtain a vessel for "scientific research" is a thinly veiled plan to conduct whaling under the guise of research as the Japanese have done since the moratorium on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986. It must be remembered that the tribe, in the not too distant past, inquired about building and operating a slaughterhouse/processing plant for whales, seals, sea lions and other marine mammals. They have repeatedly admitted that they would like to conduct commercial whaling and have specifically reserved their right to do so."

"Federally funded whale hunting in US waters is something we would have never expected to see in the 21st century. The United States condemns the Japanese government's policy of killing whales under the guise of scientific research. It is unimaginable to think that we would not only allow the Makah whalers to do the same thing, but to fund it with our tax dollars" said Jonathan Paul of Ocean Defense International.

"Given our nation's many pressing needs and priorities, the funding requested by the Makah tribe for the killing of whales must be denied by the US Government," said Will Anderson of Friends of the Gray Whale.

For those of you who want to ask NOAA to spend that $1.2 million on much needed research like cost effective whale friendly fishing gear, the effects of global warming on amphipods or the effects of low frequency sonar.

Send comments to:
  • Conrad Lautenbacher Jr. (the new head of NOAA)
  • Sandra Abels