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Makah Tribe of Washington state granted approval to hunt grey whales again

Click to play video: 'Washington State tribe given preliminary approval to hunt grey whales'
Washington State tribe given preliminary approval to hunt grey whales
A Washington State tribe has been given preliminary approval to hunt up to 25 grey whales over the next decade. Kylie Stanton reports – Jun 13, 2024

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. has granted the Makah Tribe of Washington state the approval to harvest as many as 25 grey whales over the next 10 years.

This waiver is in accordance with the Treaty of Neah Bay of 1855 and quotas established by the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Before any hunt starts, NOAA Fisheries and the Tribe must agree on the expedition, under the Whaling Convention Act, and the Tribe must apply for and receive a hunting permit.

The final rule includes time and area restrictions, harvest limits, low population thresholds, restrictions on the using grey whale parts and reporting and monitoring requirements, according to NOAA.

Click to play video: 'Washington First Nation looks to hunt grey whales again'
Washington First Nation looks to hunt grey whales again

“This final rule represents a major milestone in the process to return ceremonial and subsistence hunting of Eastern North Pacific gray whales to the Makah Tribe,” Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries said in a statement.

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“The measures adopted today honor the Makah Tribe’s treaty rights and their cultural whaling tradition that dates back well over 1,000 years, and is fundamental to their identity and heritage.”

Under the final rule, no more than two to three whales can be hunted yearly in U.S. waters.

The most recent gray whale population estimate, based on counts of southbound whales during the winter of 2023 to 2024, is approximately 17,400 to 21,300 whales, according to NOAA.

“Considering that the population of gray whales is now in the neighbourhood of 18 or 19,000 animals, it’s a very small fraction of that population so it would not affect the population as a whole,” Michael Milstein with NOAA Fisheries told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Scientists baffled as dead whales continue to wash ashore in parts of Alaska'
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However, not everyone is on board with the ruling.

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“If they were in a situation where there was a lack of food, I think none of us would have the right to say a word, but that is not the case in this situation,” Janine Wray, CEO of the North Coast Cetaceans Society and BC Whales said.

“I think that to go out and harpoon a whale that so many people are connected to is just heart-wrenching, and it’s not necessary.”

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