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DECEMBER 30, 1998   11:53 AM
CONTACT: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Gray Whales: 5  Makah Whalers: 0 - Year Passes With No Whales Killed Off Washington State
FRIDAY HARBOR, WA - December 30 - On board Sea Shepherd: The Makah Tribal whalers of Washington State failed to take a single Gray whale from the 1998 quota allotted to them by the United States government.

"This translates into five whales saved from the harpoons and .50 caliber guns," said Captain Paul Watson, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "These five whales cannot be added to the 1999 quota. The Makah are not allowed to take more than five whales per year for five years, for a total of twenty whales. As of tomorrow, they will be restricted to fifteen whales over the next four years."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society deems the 1998 campaign to oppose Makah whaling a complete success. In addition to zero kills, the campaign focused international attention on this hunt, exposed the fact that the International Whaling Commission does not recognize the hunt, and helped to persuade the Premier of British Columbia that whaling is not to be considered in land claim negotiations with the Nuu-Chah-nulth nation. Links to Japanese commercial whalers were exposed, along with evidence that the Makah intended to create a commercial whaling operation as far back as 1995.

The high-profile campaign will guarantee that the International Whaling Commission will discuss the actions of the United States in issuing permits to kill whales without IWC recognition of a legitimate aboriginal subsistence tradition. Sea Shepherd will send an observer to the IWC Meeting in Grenada, scheduled for May 1999.

"In 1998, we achieved everything we set out to achieve," said Captain Watson. "Our daily patrols prevented any attempts to go whaling and we left when we were confident that the weather conditions and our underwater sound transmissions would prevent any whaling activity for the rest of the year. We think we were successful in convincing the whales to stay offshore. In short, our efforts have been well rewarded."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is grateful to the conservation and animal welfare groups who came to Neah Bay and the many Makah Tribal Elders and members who supported this campaign to prevent any whales from being taken in 1998.

"The big guns of the Makah were not fired. The whales did not stain American territorial water with their lifeblood," said Campaign leader Lisa Distefano. "We came to Neah Bay in September to save the whales and we did just that. We are very happy with what we accomplished this year."

The Sea Shepherd ships, crews, and allies will return to Neah Bay to protect the whales on their northward migration in the Spring of 1999.




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