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Court Stops Makah Whale Hunt

20th December 2002,

The Fund for Animals

SEATTLE, WA -- Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit effectively put a stop to the Makah tribe's hunting of gray whales off the coast of Washington. The court reversed a previous trial court decision, and ruled, for the second time, that the government had failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, and, for the first time, that the whale hunt violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The legal challenge had been filed by The Fund for Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, and other groups and individuals.

The plaintiffs argued that the government failed to adequately study the ways in which the Makah whale hunt could adversely affect the environment, especially because the expanded hunt posed an even greater risk to the area's small population of 30 to 50 resident gray whales. The plaintiffs also argued that the government's authorization of the whale hunt violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which expressly prohibits whaling, while creating an exemption for Alaskan tribes but not for the Makah.

Said Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals, "We are elated that the court has put a stop to this illegal and inhumane whale hunt. American citizens want our whales to be protected, not persecuted. The government has twice failed to produce an environmental study to justify this activity, and it should stop fleecing American taxpayers to promote whale hunting."

Added Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president for The Humane Society of the United States, "This attempt to circumvent our environmental and marine mammal protection laws has failed. Let's hope that this represents the final chapter in this wrongheaded effort to resume whale killing in the United States."

The plaintiffs are represented by the public interest law firm Meyer & Glitzenstein.

The 54-page decision issued today is available by clicking here