Sunday, September 09, 2007

Whale killed in US whale hunt

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.


Anonymous said...

This is a shame! The last hunt turned out to be nothing but a farce when viewed from the perspective of cultural fulfillment. They used a 500 HP boat to chase the whale, then they shot it with a 50 caliber rifle--hardly traditional methods of hunting. The makah had to hire an Inuet from Alaska to butcher the animal and then had a hard time giving away the meat...

I remember having serious debates on this issue on the High North Alliance web page back in those days..I tried to convince them that killing a whale in this day and age would not reflect well on their tribe. Reviving one's historic culture in these modern times is as much about symbolism as it is about reality.. None of the circumstances of an authentic hunt still exist. There is no need for the meat to fend off starvation. The historic abundance that once made the individual kill insignificant has been altered forever. My suggestion to them at the time was to do something uplifting and entirely symbolic, something that would offend no one yet be substantial enough to give them the pride they are yearning for.

I suggested that they straighten out a small hook and tie a thread representing every individual in the tribe to the hook. Then they could row their canoe next to the whale and in a symbolic jesture of harpooning the whale, only leave the tiny hook with a thread for every member to go along on the whale's journey..

That idea didn't go over so well--they wanted to kill something..

They will not get one ounce of sympathy or support from me! i hope that they are arrested and jailed for this senseless act of cruelty!

gamefan12 said...

I think this is so wrong to do. Why would they kill a whale. This people need to be prosecuted to the max.
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