Chief: Whale killing damages Makah case

Sept. 10, 2007 at 8:40 AM

PORT ANGELES, Wash., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The illegal killing of a whale off the coast of Washington state has damaged the Makah's case to resume legal whaling, the tribe's chairman said.

Five tribal members are accused of shooting and harpooning a California gray whale Saturday in the Juan de Fuca Strait, the Peninsula Daily News of Port Angeles, Wash., reported Monday.

"They did go against all the rules that were set down by the (Makah) whaling commission," said tribal Chairman Ben Johnson Jr., vowing to see the men are prosecuted.

The killing has damaged the Makah's case with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the public as the tribe awaits a review of its request to resume whaling under a waiver from the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, Johnson said.

The five men, who could face U.S. federal charges for violating the marine mammal act, claim they were exercising what the Makah regard as a right to hunt whales granted in an 1855 treaty with the United States, Johnson said.

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