Subject: IWC: U.S. Opposed on Makah Whaling (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:33:25 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 97 12:46:00 GMT 
Subject: U.S. Opposed on Makah Whaling

U.S. Opposed on Makah Whaling

 Associated Press Writer
   MONACO (AP) -- A proposal to let Washington state's Makah Indians
resume whaling after a 70-year break met stiff opposition at an
international conference Wednesday, partly because it affects the
needs of other indigenous groups.
   The joint U.S.-Russian proposal to the International Whaling
Commission sought a shared quota of whales for the Inuits of Alaska
and the Chukchi of Russia's eastern Siberia out of a stock that
roams waters between the two countries. The Makah would get four
whales annually as part of that deal.
   The 2,000-member Makah tribe, which voluntarily stopped whaling
decades ago because over-hunting threatened the whales, had sought
permission to hunt five gray whales a year.
   After heated debate, the U.S. proposal was postponed to allow
more time to strike a compromise. It was not clear when the
commission would return to the issue, but its annual meeting in
Monaco adjourns Friday.
   Scott Smullen, the U.S. delegation's spokesman, said "informal
consultations" were being held to come up with ways to overcome
the objections. "We hope to wrap this up tomorrow," he said.
   The United States prefers a consensus decision to putting the
issue to a vote. A lack of support last year led the Americans to
withdraw their bid then to win permission for Makah whaling.
   The commission, which has banned commercial whaling since 1986
to protect depleted stocks, does grant quotas to indigenous peoples
with a strong tradition of whaling and a proven need for the meat.
Commercial sales are forbidden.
   Australia, Austria and other nations said the United States
failed to prove that the Makah needed the whale meat for food.
   Opponents also objected to linking the Makah demands to those of
the Inuits of Alaska and the Chukchi of Russia, related tribes that
have depended on whales for millennia.
   Jim McKay, of the New Zealand delegation, said the Chukchi were
among the indigenous groups to best fit the IWC requirements,
especially during the hard times after the Soviet Union broke up.
   "The Chukchi are starving," he said. By including the Makah in
a package deal, McKay said, "an acceptable proposal has been
linked to one that is unacceptable."
   The United States and Russia want the Chukchi to give four gray
whales out of their annual quota of 140 to the Makah. In exchange,
the Inuits of Alaska would give five of their quota of 67 bowhead
whales to the Chukchi.
   The proposal does not specifically mention the Makah tribe
because the commission only sets quotas for whole stocks based on
overall need among aboriginal hunters, said William Martin of the
U.S. delegation.
   An Australian delegation statement complained that the proposal
attempts to slip the Makah issue past the IWC: "It deprives
Australia of the right to vote against a specific proposal on the
   Sidney Holt, a long-term member of the IWC scientific committee,
said the issue was important because it would set a precedent of
aboriginal peoples of two countries sharing one stock of whales.
   "This is the first time in the nearly 50-year history of the
IWC that this has come up," he said.
   The United States opposes commercial whaling, but has pushed
hard on behalf of the Makah, which Martin said were the only tribe
to secure the right to hunt whales under a 1855 treaty with the
U.S. government.
   Even if the commission approves the proposal, the Makah face
challenges to their whale hunt within the United States.