NOAA Fisheries Northwest Region
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100
Portland, OR 97232
Re:Makah Request for Waiver of MMPA Moratorium
Dear Mr. Stone,
After carefully reviewing the available background information on the Makah Indian Tribe’s request for a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) moratorium against hunting of gray whales, I believe that the waiver by the Makah peoples should be approved. I agree with the Makah Tribe’s position that their treaty rights, granted to them in the Treaty of Neah Bay (1855), should take precedence over more recently enacted legislation by the United States. Although the treaty should take precedence over the MMPA requirements, the Makah Tribe is making a good faith effort to comply with the federally mandated requirements of the Act.
The Makah Indian Tribe has a long history (at least 1500 years) of whaling in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. This cultural identity is evidenced in their daily life, as well as in substantial archeological material at the Cape Ozette and West Point archeological sites. This whaling culture was so important to the Makah Tribe that they were the only U.S. tribe to insist that they maintained whaling rights and this language was included in their treaty. The tribe is planning on using the whale products exclusively among the tribe members; there is no intent to sell the products for profit. Whaling is, and has always been, integral to these people and these cultural needs should be respected and not held hostage as the U.S. government asserts its political clout over “modern day” business interests. The Makah have already been granted approval from the International Whaling Commission to maintain a subsistence level of whaling for the tribe-specified in the Waiver Request as 20 whales over 5 years and no more than 5 whales per year....