Help Sea Shepherds stop Makah whaling by Michael Kundu
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:
Two centuries ago, gray whales migrating
north past Neah Bay in Washington State were
harpooned by Makah tribal whalers. The killing,
done from cedar canoes with wooden harpoons,
was a tradition. Trading oil from the gray whale
made the Makah prosperous. But over time, the
gray whale population dwindled. Then, for many
decades, the killing stopped.
This October, 76 years after the Makah
last killed a whale, the Makah Whaling
Commission intends to resume whaling, within
waters now part of the Olympic National Marine
Sanctuary. The killing will signal an international
escalation of illegal commercial whaling. Pirate
whaling nations, primarily Japan and Norway,
have furtively promoted this and other so-called
indigenous whale hunts the world over.
Covertly lobbying in Russia, granting
“fisheries development aid” in St. Vincent and the
Grenadines, and funding the World Council of
Whalers office in Port Alberni, British Columbia,
the whaling nations hope to establish precedents
for obtaining International Whaling Commission
quotas under claims of cultural justification––
which could be used to open a new era of whaling
by any culture––First World, First Nations or
Third World––which traditionally killed whales.
Giving the Makah whalers more than
$250,000 of tax money to lobby worldwide for this
hunt, the Bill Clinton/Albert Gore administration
has endorsed the strategy to revive whaling,
despite the opposition of at least 44 members of
Congress and the entire Washington state senate.
We of the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society oppose this hunt because it is clearly n o t
about indigenous rights, nor is it about reclaiming
a lost native tradition. According to the many
Makah tribal elders who also oppose the hunt, no
effort is being made to adhere to historic Makah
traditions. It will be carried out by .50 caliber
rifles, fired from motorboats. The Makah whalers
have also imported an Alaskan Eskimo whaling
captain, and scuba divers will be deployed to
retrieve shot whales. This is certainly not the traditional
way the Makah once killed gray whales.
After the Makah kill their first gray
whale, the Canadaís Nuu-Chah-Nulth nations,
representing 14 coastal Vancouver Island tribes,
also plan to start whaling. The Japanese have
declared that the Makah whale hunt, when it
begins, will mean that they should be allowed to
award quotas to Taiji coastal villages for orca,
minke, fin and sperm whales. This is just the
start. Greenland, Russia, Iceland, Denmark,
Norway, Canada and many other nations may be
expected to pursue whaling quotas.
The Sea Shepherds plan to have both
powered vessels stationed offshore and hundreds
of kayaks within the protected waters of Neah Bay
on October 1, when the hunt is scheduled to start.
Our goal is to keep the whalers from leaving the
harbor and to draw worldwide media attention to
the plight of whales the world over. We hope that
if the eyes of the world are focused on Neah Bay,
the whales might yet have a chance.
We need your support. Please contact us
if you can join us on the water––prepared to camp,
paddle, and most importantly, save lives.
If you can’t come in person, please contact
your Congressional representative, donate to
the organizations opposing the Makah whale hunt,
and help us draw public attention to this resumption
of the killing that only 15 years ago had driven
virtually all the baleen whales toward the verge of
Michael Kundu is Pacific Northwest
Director for the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society. He may be contacted c/o >>seashep –
firstname.lastname@example.org<<. The Sea Shepherd
mailing address is POB 628, Venice, CA 90294.