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Page Updated: May 21, 2002

Second Lawsuit Filed Against Makah Hunt

TACOMA, WA (May 21, 2002) -- The Fund for Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, and other groups and individuals filed a notice of appeal today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to halt an impending gray whale hunt by the Makah tribe. Judge Franklin D. Burgess of U.S. District Court issued an order denying the hunt was filed in January.

Despite a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the previous environmental study authorizing the whale hunt violated federal law, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service have actually expanded the whale hunt by now allowing hunting within the Strait of Juan de Fuca during any time of the year. As a result, the groups argue, it is much more likely that a "resident whale" -- from a small, behaviorally distinct group of whales -- will be killed and threats to human safety will be increased. The groups also argue that the hunt violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which expressly prohibits whaling, while creating an exemption for Alaskan tribes but not the Makah.

"The Court of Appeals has previously determined that the government's environmental study of the whale hunt was inadequate, and now the environmental impacts of the expanded whale hunt are even worse than before," said Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of The Fund for Animals. "Whaling may have been a tradition in the past, but there nothing traditional about cruelly shooting these majestic creatures with high-powered rifles."

The plaintiffs are represented by the public interest law firm Meyer & Glitzenstein.

Follow Congressman Inslee's Example!
Maybe We Can Save Some Gray Whales!

  • Pam's Note: Copy this letter and send to your representatives and let's save some whales!
  • Dear Mr. President,

    I am writing to thank you and your Administration for your strong statements against Japan's expanded whaling program. I am very pleased that your Administration has reinforced the United State's continued opposition to whaling.

    I hope that your strong statements against whaling also means you will work to oppose the Revised Management Scheme (RMS). The RMS has no other outcome than commercial whaling, and is based on unreliable assumptions on whale populations. These assumptions have the potential to push certain species to extinction. The RMS does not take into account the effects of climate change on the whales or their food supply, nor does it take into account ship strikes, entanglements, the effects of the proposed low frequency sonar, or illegal whaling operations. In 1985, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) attempted a limited commercial quota for Japan and Norway.

    Neither nation followed the regulations or adhered to the stated quota so the IWC was forced to place a total ban on commercial whaling.

    Since 1994, whale watching has become a billion-dollar industry in the United States and around the world, including Japan, with more than 500 whale-watching companies in operation. The sustainable use of natural resources does not require consumptive use. The "optimum utilization of the whale resource" called for in the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (Article V, Section 2) needs to be reinterpreted as constituting non-lethal, non-consumptive research, recreational, and > educational activities, such as those involved in whale watching.

    While the current moratorium on whaling does not have a fixed time frame, I believe the IWC could fulfill a vital role where a current void exists. As I stated, there has been a tremendous growth in whale watching operations, and perhaps the IWC could take on the role of regulating these international operations. The IWC could also better regulate whale research and commission research to find cost effective, whale friendly fishing gear.

    Again, I believe that commercial whaling has outlived its necessity. The United States has been a vocal ally of these magnificent sentient creatures and I encourage you to resist any advancement towards the resumption of commercial whaling, including any movements towards the adoption of the RMS.

    Jay Inslee
    Member of Congress