Subject: Case Study:U.S. whaling dispute brews on whaling

Michael Williamson (
Fri, 28 Jun 1996 09:02:59 -0400 (EDT)

Should this whaling be allowed?
Why or why not?
What other issues are raised?
Environmentally? Politically?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 96 11:27:00 UTC 0000
Subject: U.S. whaling dispute brews ahe

U.S. whaling dispute brews ahead of world meeting

    By Sonali Paul
     WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuter) - A bid by the United States to
let a Native American tribe hunt gray whales to revive their
cultural traditions could spark an international dispute next
week, environmentalists said on Monday.
     Anticipating less than unanimous support for the request at
the International Whaling Commission meeting in Aberdeen,
Scotland, beginning on June 24, U.S. Commerce Undersecretary
James Baker said he planned to focus attention on the issue.
     While whale protection treaties ban commercial whaling, they
allow aboriginal groups like the Makah tribe of Washington state
to kill limited numbers of whales if the people need the meat to
eat or to sustain their culture.
     The Makahs want to take five gray whales a year for cultural
reasons, not for food, U.S. officials and environmentalists
     "The precedent this could set is extremely worrying," said
Ginette Hemley, the World Wildlife Fund's director of
international wildlife policy. "We should be reviewing what
other approaches might satisfy that cultural gap they're
     Although the United States has targeted Japan and Norway for
defying commercial whaling bans, it stands fully behind the
Makah tribal council's request.
     "There is no commercial aspect to it," said Baker, who is
the U.S. commissioner to the IWC. "It's done under a numerical
quota, and permits the stock to still continue to grow."
     The IWC allows Russian natives to kill up to 140 gray whales
a year and lets Eskimos kill a small number of endangered
bowhead whales.
     Baker told reporters that the Makah, who had hunted whales
for hundreds of years, stopped killing them in the mid-1920s
when the mammals came close to extinction. The gray whale came
off the endangered list in 1994, and there are now about 21,000
gray whales.
     Environmentalists are split on the issue, with some saying
the Makah plan should be allowed to go ahead."We think there are other big
fights to occupy us next
week," said Gerry Leape, a campaigner for Greenpeace, the
environmental group which is battling Norwegian whalers.
     The U.S. government could be sued by the tribe if the IWC
does not approve the plan, because under a 19th century treaty
with the U.S. government, the Makah have a right to whale.
     Animal welfare activists say the Makah tribal elders and the
tribal council are split on the issue.
     In an advertisement in a local newspaper, sponsored by
animal rights groups, the tribal elders questioned the legality
of the council's decision to propose a whale hunt, which was
never put to a vote before the tribe.
     Makah representatives were not available for comment, and
planned to issue a statement only after the IWC meeting.
     Environmentalists plan to work with the Australian and New
Zealand delegations as well as some European governments, which
oppose whaling and have raised concerns about the Makah
proposal, to try to stall or reject it.