Whaling Convention Act Charges Against Makah Five Dismissed For Vagueness; Other Charges Stand
TACOMA -- A federal judge threw out half of the government's case Tuesday against five Makah tribal whalers accused of harpooning and killing a gray whale in September. The hunt underscored the frustration many members of the Northwest tribe feel over perceived bureaucratic impediments to their right to hunt whales on the Olympic Peninsula, as their ancestors have done for thousands of years.Very fair article by Mr. Shukovsky; read the whole thing.
The five whalers had faced a three-count misdemeanor indictment, charged with violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Whaling Convention Act, and conspiring to break those laws. But U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Kelley Arnold ruled Tuesday that the language of the Whaling Convention Act on criminal violations is too vague to apply. He dismissed those charges and part of the related conspiracy count. Arnold cited a previous decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that the Makah must seek a waiver under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in order to take whales. His ruling left intact the charges alleging violations of that law.