Public turns out for first hearing on Makah Nation's whale hunt

A gray whale in Neah Bay in Washington. Photo from Makah Nation

NOAA Fisheries, an agency within the Department of Commerce, held the first public hearing on the whale hunt for the Makah Nation of Washington.

According to news reports, the hearing in Seattle drew people from both sides of the argument. Environmental groups claim the hunt harms the whales while supporters of the tribe noted that the right to hunt is guaranteed by the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay.

Tribal representatives did not attend the hearing, according to news reports. They are expected to attend the one in Port Angeles tomorrow night.

The tribe stopped hunting in the 1920s due to international exploitation that threatened the survival of the gray whale. After the whale was removed from the endangered species list, the tribe concluded a successful hunt in May 1999.

Lawsuits from environmental groups, however, resulted in a series of rulings from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that said that the hunt must comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The latest environmental impact statement details how that would happen.

Written comments can be submitted until June 11.

Get the Story:
Public comment sought for Makah whale hunt waiver (KING 5 News 4/27)
Debate rages over whether to resume whale hunting off Washington coast (KIRO 4/27)
Tribe's request to hunt whales under public scrutiny in Seattle (My Northwest 4/27)
Local tribe's planned whale hunt draws criticism, support (KOMO 4/27)

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