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The Makah Whale Hunt

News Updates

May 27, 1999 - 10:40 AM The World Wildlife Fund has just opened a news site specifically for the meeting of the International Whaling Commission currently underway in Grenada. As expected, the Makah hunt is frequently in the discussions, and is being used to try to ease whaling restrictions around the world. The site is now gone.

May 24, 1999 - 9:30 AM - fears are rapidly increasing that the successful Makah hunt, and the US government's support of it, have opened the door to a worldwide resumption of commercial whaling. International whaling officials have gathered in St. Georges, Grenada, to hear calls to ease a worldwide ban on commercial whaling. The 5-day conference started a few hours ago, and Japan, Norway, several Caribbean allies, and whaling industry associations plan to argue that growing gray and pilot whale populations should no longer be protected.

May 20, 1999 - 9:00 AM - There have been huge changes in the ecosystem of the Bering Sea in the past few years, and the large number of gray whales dying and washing up on the beaches of Mexico and California may be an indication that there are too many whales for the available food.

May 18, 1999 - 11:00 AM - The Makah people celebrate, and protestors appear to have at least temporarily resigned themselves to defeat. The Premier of British Columbia stated emphatically this morning that under no conditions would he ever discuss a resumption of whaling by the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe of Vancouver Island.

May 17, 1999 - 9:10 AM - at 6:55 this morning, a gray whale was successfully killed by the Makah hunters. A whale hunt is a gory business, and the film recorded by boats, helicopters and other aircraft virtually guarantees a bitter fight in the next few hours. KIRO 7 had extensive coverage, including the dramatic, and many will say sickening, video on-line.

May 11, 1999 - 9:30 AM - reports from KIRO TV, the Seattle Times and The Oregonian in Portland.

May 10, 1999 - 4:00 PM - the gray whales are migrating again, and the Makah canoe is back hunting. One harpoon throw was made this afternoon, but missed. The US Coast Guard arrested one protest boat.

November 10 - 8:00 PM - ABC News posted an excellent series on the current status of the hunt, including many photos.

November 3 - 6:30 PM - as expected, the stormy weather did keep the Makah whaling crews on shore.

November 3 - 10:30 AM - after a tense month, during which time whaling crews have practised and tested their equipment, and anti-whaling groups have waited, the Makah now have another 10-day hunting permit. Storms make it unlikely that the whaling canoe will head for open water today, however.

October 5 - 6:30 PM - the storms continue, and so does the waiting. While the protesters mostly wait on their boats, the Makah have invited media representatives from around the world to an evening of traditional songs, dancing and food. The reporter from KIRO had little to say except to comment that they weren't allowed to photograph the performers.

October 4 - Midnight - I've just been talking with a Makah member for the past hour - as a result, I've been able to confirm that the stories told by the media about the Makah planning to sell the whale meat are untrue. My informant states that extensive preparations are being made in D'iaat (Neah Bay) to receive, prepare and distribute the whale meat among the 5 Makah villages. The Makah Nation states that:

We will abide by federal laws which prohibit commerce in whale meat. Our Tribal law also prohibits any sale of whale meat or whale products, except for artifacts made by Makah carvers out of whale bone. The meat will be distributed to all members of the tribe, which presently numbers 1,800 persons. Any meat remaining will be frozen in meat lockers for later distribution. We are legally permitted to take up to five whales per year, but the Makah gray whale management plan limits the number of landed whales over a five year period to 20 - or an average of four per year. The management plan permits whaling only if there is an unmet traditional subsistence or cultural need for the whale in the community. So it is possible that as little as one whale per year will suffice.

October 2 - 8:00 AM - Rain and fog have resulted in the announcement that the hunters will not leave the harbour today. Opponents of the hunt announced that they will be playing tapes of Orcas, in the belief that the grays will then avoid the area.

October 1 - 4:00 PM - Due to stormy seas and heavy rain, the hunt for today has been cancelled.

October 1 - Noon (PST) - Environmentalists have announced plans to put scuba divers in the water near the whales. This would put into effect a 200-meter safety zone into which the whalers' canoe could not enter.

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