It's difficult question time as a grey whale was killed during a whale hunt in nearby coastal waters. Blogfish finds many friends asking questions about this hunt.
First, news is sketchy, so more time is needed to sort out what really happened. Sunday morning, before coffee, a banner headline screamed "Grey whale killed in rogue tribal hunt." BTW, this is Seattle all right. How many other places carried the news so prominently?
The early story was rogue hunters did a bad thing. But wait. It now seems that the lead hunter was a grey-haired man who led the legal Makah hunt of 1999 that also killed a whale. One comment was that he was tired of the 8 years of process and wrangling over their treaty rights, and "it was time" to hunt again. For detailed reports, visit Olympic Peninsula Environmental News.
Blogfish sees many shades of grey here. Makah whale hunting is important and culturally valuable. Lots of people claim this and it's rarely true. It's true for Makah whale hunting. Process hurdles do look ridiculous at some point, and I can understand wanting to act rather than spin more papers. But it's breaking the law and one has to be prepared to pay for breaking the law. This "rogue" whale hunt is at least partially some people standing up for what they view as their rights, but that will have consequences. The hunters are not hiding, they're prepared to take responsibility for their actions.
Finally, there is no scientific reason that I know of to worry about the biological impact on the whales. It may be significant if this was a local resident whale, but it's not primarily a conservation issue. This is a moral and social issue, and raises concerns about resumption of whale hunting elsewhere.
It's a tough call, and the rule of law is important. But I wish we were better at drawing lines between resource uses that are ok and those that are not ok. The Makah tribal hunt doesn't worry me as a conservation problem, and I wish the Makah well in maintaining their identity. They have some of my sympathies, I just wish they had waited until they had a permit.