Opinion: Makah Nation shouldn't hunt whales

"Micah McCarty says the Makah tribe is committed to seeking federal approval to hunt gray whales. Claims that the system has been abused to deprive the tribe of its treaty rights ignore the reality of the current situation facing gray whales.

At the recent International Whaling Commission Alaska meeting, Commissioner Doug De Master acknowledged that the gray whale population was estimated at 17,000. In fact, there's been no population estimate undertaken by National Marine Fisheries Service since 2001. It is highly likely the figure presented to the IWC Scientific Committee by the U.S. is an overestimate.

Canadian researchers say the population may be down as low as 15,000. At this level, the Endangered Species Act protected the gray whale in the past.

The 2001 study showed a decrease of 30 percent in the population. Calf counts are low and last year went as low as 100. Recent studies on the level of predation by orcas shows in some years a mortality rate as high as 30 percent. The extent of orca predation by transients may be driven by lack of food. Global warming is creating major food shortages for many marine mammals.

We know the whales have not recovered from the massive population crash in 1999-2000. Scientists working on the Pacific Coast say they're observing increasing numbers of emaciated whales, almost certainly a result of global warming wreaking havoc in the Arctic."

Get the Story:
Sue Arnold: Tribe should help preserve gray whales (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 1/22)

Relevant Documents:
Tribal Council Statement | Makah Tribal Whale Hunt | Marine Mammal Protection Act

Court Decisions:
Anderson v. Evans (June 7, 2004) | Anderson v. Evans (December 20, 2002)

Relevant Links:
Makah Nation - http://www.makah.com

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