Public comment period extended on whale hunt for Makah Nation

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

The public has been until July 31 to comment on the whale hunt request for the Makah Nation of Washington.

The 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay secures the right to hunt. The tribe, however, stopped 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. But lawsuits from environmental groups 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.

After years of work, NOAA Fisheries, an agency within the Department of Commerce, finally issued a draft environmental impact statement in March.

Two public meetings were held in April, including one in which an opponent of the hunt changed his mind after hearing from tribal leaders and elders. They explained how their ancestors gave up hundreds of thousands of acres while securing the right to hunt whales in order to feed their people

"Our culture is our treasure, and our families have remembered their history is our treasure," elder Dotti Chamberlin said at the April 29 hearing, The Peninsula Daily News reported. "Think about the treaty and what we gave up to get that little reservation

Comments can be submitted to under docket NOAA-NMFS-2012-0104.

Get the Story:
Public comment period for Makah whaling request is extended to July 31 (The Peninsula Daily News 6/4)

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