Commercial whalers hunted the gray whale to near extinction by the 1920s. In recent years, gray whale stocks have rebounded, leading federal officials to remove them from the Endangered Species List in 1994. The gray whale remains threatened with populations worldwide estimated at only 23,000.
The Makah whale hunt continues to threaten the legal protections accorded to all whales worldwide. By permitting the hunt, the U.S. Government would disrespectfully undermine the rules of the International Whaling Commission (please see "points to make" below).
Prior to preparing the legally required Environmental Assessment of the potential impacts of the Makah hunt, the federal government had already entered into contractual agreements with the Makah tribe to act as their partners in the management of a whale hunt. This clear bias in favor of the whale hunt before ostensibly assessing its impacts was a violation of U.S. law.
On June 6, 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service's original Environmental Assessment was voided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered NMFS to prepare another assessment. The court found the original EA "fatally defective," and instructed that the new EA be prepared in a way that ensured "an objective evaluation free of the previous taint."
Instead, NMFS has now produced an EA that is even MORE obviously biased than the original.