03/09/2015 05:14 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Makah tribe grey whale hunt question re-opened by NOAA report

U.S. fisheries officials are asking for public comment on the question of the Makah tribe whale hunt, following a request from the Washington state tribe to take up to five grey whales per year "for ceremonial and subsistence purposes."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has written a draft report on the environmental impacts of the proposed hunt near the tip of the Olympic peninsula, outside the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

"This is the first step in a public process of considering this request that could eventually lead to authorization for the tribe to hunt grey whales," said Donna Darm, associate deputy regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries in the West Coast region, in a statement.

The 1200-page report outlines several possible scenarios, ranging from no hunt to taking up to 24 whales over six years. It is open to public comment for 90 days.

The Makah tribe historically hunted grey whales, and have argued the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay protects their right to continue the hunt.

The most recent official hunt by the tribe was in 1999, though in 2007 five Makah whalers were charged by the tribe for hunting and killing a grey whale.