NOAA allows Washington state tribe to resume whale hunts

By Rob Hotakainen | 06/13/2024 04:17 PM EDT

The Makah Tribe has been waiting since 2005 for a decision on its bid to revive a centuries-old hunting practice.

Two Makah Indian whalers stand atop the carcass of a dead gray whale.

Two Makah whalers stand atop the carcass of a gray whale after helping tow it close to shore in the harbor at Neah Bay, Washington, on May 17, 1999. Elaine Thompson/AP

In a long-awaited ruling, NOAA said Thursday that it will allow the Makah Tribe to resume whaling off its tiny reservation in northwestern Washington state.

While the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits the killing or hunting of whales, NOAA said it had approved a waiver that would permit the tribe to hunt and kill up to 25 Eastern North Pacific gray whales over the next decade.

The decision marked a victory after a protracted wait for the tribe, which requested permission from NOAA in 2005.


NOAA Fisheries chief Janet Coit said the agency’s final rule “represents a major milestone in the process to return ceremonial and subsistence hunting” to the tribe.