A situation has developed which deserves your immediate attention. The Makah Tribe of Washington State guided by persons' in your government have slaughtered a whale within not only the United States Economic Exclusion Zone but right in the middle of a marine sanctuary. A place which your administration declared a haven for such creatures.
This area, known as the 'Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary', includes Neah Bay the home of the Makah People. The Bay and surrounding areas have been historical meeting places for not only native American indians but for the Californian Gray Whale. The whales which, each year, migrate along this coastline have for centuries sought refuge in these sheltered areas and for the past 70 years have enjoyed the hospitality and protection of the Makah people of Neah bay and your Administration.
Now and for reasons known only to the Makah people they have dramatically altered their relationship with nature. Returning to a way of life that past Presidents have laboured to improve.
Many groups have taken out protest boats to impede the Makah in their attempts to kill whales but it is now too late to stop the precedent which has been created. As, with the Canadian seal hunt, your government authorities had to pass laws to prevent boats entering the killing fields. Can I expect much the same level of protection the Gray whales have now?
Your Administration voted in 1997 to ensure the Californian Gray Whale remained on Appendix I of the CITES treaty. Inclusion in this Appendix prohibits any whaling world wide. Yet this year your Government has allowed the killing of the same whale in United States waters.
By allowing the Makah to kill Gray whales this year your government has:
* failed to complete a proper environmental impact study and a five year monitoring program required under the Endangered Species Act.
* failed to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Marine Sanctuaries Act, (MSA), the Whaling Convention Act, (WCA) and other statues including the consultations requirements of the MSA and the permit issuance procedures under the WCA. In Addition, the agency's authorization and promotion of Makah whaling is arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to law, in contravention of the purposes of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the International Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (CITES).
Some of the tribal elders are totally opposed to the recommencement of whaling on any grounds. They say times have changed and that killing the whale is no longer necessary. But their voices have been silenced and these elders have endured considerable harassment in their own community. Many people and groups have tried to persuade the Makah to begin a whale watching operation but the Tribe has resisted all efforts to negotiate a solution.
There is a desperate need for a moratorium which allows discussion in our communities; time to re-evaluate; to find other ways of making peace and bringing about reconciliation without killing animals in the name of indigenous rights.