Public comment accepted on Makah whaling proposal

The public comment period will end on March 16 for a proposal that would open the way for the Makah to resume subsistence whale hunting.

The National Maritime Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s moratorium on the take of marine mammals to allow the Makah Tribe to kill a limited number of Eastern North Pacific gray whales.

A hearing was conducted Nov. 14-21 before Coast Guard Administrative Law Judge George J. Jordan in Seattle. For documents, see www.regulations.gov.

To comment electronically, go to www.regulations.gov/docket and click the “comment now” icon.

Written comments also can be sent through the U.S. Postal Service. They should be addressed to the attention of Steve Stone, NMFS West Coast Region, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232-1274. Include the identifier “NOAA-NMFS-2019-0037” in the comments.

After the expiration of the comment period, Jordan will write a decision and transmit it to the assistant administrator.

Then the public will have another opportunity to comment before the assistant administrator issues a final decision on the proposed waiver and regulations, NMFS said.

The Makah Tribe, based in Neah Bay, is the only tribe in the lower 48 states with the right to hunt whales written into its treaty, the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. The last legal whale hunt was in 1999. It was accompanied by protests from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society among others.

The tribe requested a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 2005.

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