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at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (iwc) held in Aberdeen recently, the us was forced to eat humble pie. Its suggestion that the Makah tribe of Washington state be allowed to catch five grey whales in the coming year, met with a decisive veto.
Under iwc rules, aboriginal groups can be allowed whaling 'quotas' to meet nutritional and cultural needs. But as the anti-whaling nations like Australia pointed out, the Makah have not whaled for nearly 70 years now. The tribals may, however, decide to whale under the guise of a 1855 treaty signed with the us government which legally allows them to net whales.
New quotas for various tribes have alarmed the whale-lovers. "It would set an unfortunate precedent," said Cassandra Phillips of the World Wide Fund for Nature, "opening the door to whaling by other tribes in the us, Canada and elsewhere." There are apprehensions that the Makah may begin whaling and possibly sell the meat to other countries.