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For almost two decades the Makah Tribe has been trying to get permission to hunt grey whales off the coast of Washington. Now, with the release of a series of proposals set forth by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the tribe may be close to its goal.

The last time the Makah Tribe legally held a gray whale hunt was in 1999. Before that, it had been more than 70 years since a legal hunt had taken place, according to the Seattle Times. In February 2005, the tribe submitted a request to resume hunting of gray whales via an authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Whaling Convention Act. The basis of the the request stemmed from the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay, which expressly secures the Makah Tribe’s right to hunt whales.

This month, the NOAA released an impact statement in which it analyzed the effects of seven different proposed plans of action and compared them to the “no action option” of not granting any exemption to the whaling ban. The statement identified one of the proposals as the preferred action, in which the Makah Tribe would be provided a 10-year waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harvest whales. Over the course of this proposed waiver period, no more than 25 whales could be struck. The hunts would take place during alternating winter-spring and summer-fall hunt seasons and the tribe would have to be issued a permit for each hunt.

The NOAA will issue a final decision on the hunt in 30 days or more.


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