Feds want new study of Makah whaling impact

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PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) -- Federal agencies want a new study of gray whales on the Washington coast before the Makah tribe is permitted to exercise its treaty right to whaling.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and Department of Commerce issued a notice Monday to terminate a 7-year-old draft environmental impact statement.

A new study would consider whether there is a resident population of about 200 gray whales that should be managed differently than the 20,000 gray whales that migrate past Washington each year on their way between Alaskan and Mexican waters.

Tribal Chairman Micah McCarty told the Peninsula Daily News (http://is.gd/iCAb3T ) the tribe may prepare a statement on the development.

Makah whalers harpooned and killed a whale in 1999. Courts say the tribe needs a federal waiver from the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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Information from: Peninsula Daily News, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com