Chronology of Major Events Related to Makah Tribal Gray Whale Hunt

March 6, 2015: We announce release of a new draft EIS (FR notice to be published soon) on Makah request to continue treaty right subsistence hunting of eastern north Pacific gray whales. The DEIS considers a new set of alternatives from those assessed in the 2008 DEIS (later terminated in 2012) and is made available for a 90-day public comment perios.

July 3, 2012: IWC extends gray whale catch limit for 6 years

May 21, 2012: We announce that we're terminating the 2008 DEIS and beginning a process to develop a new DEIS. (77FR29967, 203kb)

Aug. 15, 2008: Comment period closed on DEIS.

May 9, 2008: We announce release of a draft EIS (73FR26375, 51kb) on Makah request to continue treaty right subsistence hunting of eastern north Pacific gray whales. The DEIS considers various alternatives to the tribe's proposed action and is available for a 60-day public comment period.

March & April 2008: Three of the tribal members enter guilty pleas on March 27, 2008, to unlawful taking of a marine mammal in violation of the MMPA. On April 7, 2008, after a bench trial on stipulated facts, the court finds the remaining two tribal members guilty of conspiracy and unlawful taking of a marine mammal in violation of the MMPA.

October & November 2007: The five tribal members involved in the September 2007 killing of a gray whale are indicted in federal court on Oct. 5, 2007, for unauthorized whaling, unauthorized take of a marine mammal, and conspiracy to engage in unlawful whaling. On Nov. 16, 2007, the five are charged in tribal court for violating the tribe's gray whale management plan, violating state and federal laws, and reckless endangerment.

Sept. 8, 2007: Five members of the Makah Tribe hunt and kill a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in a hunt that was not authorized by the tribe or NOAA. This unauthorized hunt did not comply with numerous provisions and restrictions defined in the tribe's application, and both the tribe and NOAA make statements condemning the unlawful hunt.

May 30, 2007: IWC extends gray whale catch limit for 5 years.

Feb. 27, 2006: We announce our decision to expand scope of the EIS (71FR9781, 55kb) to include issuance of IWC quotas under the Whaling Convention Act.

Oct. 2005: We conduct public scoping meetings in Neah Bay, Port Angeles and Seattle, Wash., and Washington, D.C., to receive public input on the resources to be analyzed and possible alternatives to include in the EIS.

Aug. 25, 2005: We publish a notice of intent to conduct public scoping meetings and to prepare an EIS (70FR49911, 28kb) related to the Makah Tribe's request to continue treaty right subsistence hunting of eastern north Pacific gray whales.

March 3, 2005: We publish a notice of availability of the Makah MMPA waiver request. (70FR10359, 45kb)

Feb. 14, 2005: We receive the Makah Tribe's request for a waiver of the MMPA's take moratorium. 428kb

Nov. 26, 2003, & June 7, 2004: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice denies en banc rehearings on Anderson v. Evans, and issues the first amended opinion (350 F.3d 815) Link to a non-government website and second amended opinion (371 F.3d 475). Link to a non-government website The amended opinions clarify the legal reasoning of the decision but do not change it.

Dec. 20, 2002: Anderson v. Evans (314 F.3d 1006), Link to a non-government website Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the District Court's August 2002 opinion, ruling that 1) an EIS (rather than an EA) should have been prepared under NEPA, and 2) the Makah, to pursue any treaty rights for whaling, must comply with the process prescribed in the MMPA for authorizing take of marine mammals otherwise prohibited by a moratorium.

August 2002: District Court for the Western District of Washington grants summary judgment for us on a lawsuit filed in January 2002 alleging violations of the MMPA and NEPA.

May 2002: IWC sets a catch limit of 620 eastern north Pacific gray whales for 2003 through 2007. The Russian Federation (acting on behalf of the Chukotkan people for a total of 600 whales) and the United States (acting on behalf of the Makah Tribe for a total of 20 whales) submit needs statements to the IWC.

July 12, 2001: We issue our final EA with a preferred alternative granting the Makah the IWC quota of five whales a year for ceremonial and subsistence purposes with restrictions that allow a limited hunt on the Pacific Coast feeding aggregation, a portion of the eastern north Pacific stock that occurs along the Pacific Coast south of the Bering Sea during the feeding season.

Jan. 14, 2001: We distribute our draft EA on issuing a quota to the Makah for a subsistence hunt on gray whales for 2001 and 2002 for public comment, with a preferred alternative of allowing a hunt on migrating whales.

June 9, 2000: Metcalf v. Daley (214 F.3d 1135),Link to a non-government website Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses and remands the District Court's September 1998 opinion, holding that We failed to take a "hard look" under NEPA at the proposed whale hunt.

August 1999: NOAA publishes Technical Memorandum We-AFSC-103, Status Review of the [ENP] Stock of Gray Whales, ( 870KB) concluding the five-year monitoring and assessment following delisting, and recommending the continuation of the stock's classification as non-threatened.

May 17, 1999: Makah hunt, strike, and land eastern north Pacific gray whale.

Sept. 21, 1998: District Court for the Western District of Washington grants summary judgment for us on a lawsuit filed in October of 1997, ruling that the Makah can resume whaling.

April 6, 1998: We allocate the quota to the Makah for limited hunts in 1999 under the WCA. (63FR16701, 157kb)

Oct. 18, 1997: IWC sets a catch limit of 620 eastern north Pacific gray whales for 1998 through 2002. The Russian Federation (acting on behalf of the Chukotkan people for a total of 600 whales) and the U.S. (acting on behalf of the Makah Tribe for a total of 20 whales) submit needs statements to the IWC.

Oct. 17, 1997: We issue a final environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact after conducting an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Oct. 13, 1997: We and the Makah enter into an agreement to pursue a quota at the IWC meeting, adding time and area restrictions on the hunts to a prior, similar agreement signed in March of 1996.

May 5, 1995: Makah formally notify the U.S. Government of their interest in resuming treaty right ceremonial and subsistence harvest of eastern north Pacific gray whales, asking the Department of Commerce to represent it in seeking approval from the IWC for an annual quota.

June 16, 1994: Eastern north Pacific gray whales are removed from the Federal List of Endangered Wildlife (59FR31094, 471kb) after a determination that the population has "recovered to near its estimated original population size and is neither in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, nor likely to again become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range." We begins a five-year monitoring program.

1972: The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is enacted. Under the MMPA, we're responsible for the conservation of 147 stocks of whales, dolphins, and porpoises as well as seals, sea lions, and fur seals, including the eastern north Pacific gray whale (16USC1316 et seq.).

June 2, 1970: Gray whales are among the baleen whales listed as "endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Conservation Act, precursor to the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA).

1949: The Whaling Convention Act (WCA) is enacted to domestically implement the ICRW, prohibiting whaling in violation of the ICRW, the schedule, or any regulation adopted by the Secretary of Commerce (16USC916 et seq.).

1946: U.S. signs the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), established in order "to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry…." The ICRW creates the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to implement the schedule. The IWC amends the schedule to impose a complete ban on the taking or killing of gray whales, but includes an aboriginal subsistence exception "when the meat and products of such are to be used exclusively for local consumption by the aborigines."

1920s: Makah cease whaling after commercial hunting greatly reduces the eastern North Pacific (ENP) gray whale population.

1855: U.S. Government and Makah Tribe enter into the Treaty of Neah Bay, ( 181kb) securing "[t]he right of taking fish and of whaling and sealing at usual and accustomed grounds and stations…" and ceding most of the Tribal lands on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Makah Indian Tribe's (Makah) tradition of whaling dates back at least 1,500 years.