Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Japanese Whaling

  An international whaling moratorium was put into place 1986, but countries like Japan and Norway continue to ignore or bypass anti-whaling laws. Specifically, Japan hunts whales under the scientific research loophole and sells the whale carcass to civilians as research byproduct. The whale meat sold in Japan amounts to 5,000 tons in 2011, as opposed to 233,000 tons in 1962. In addition to the dramatic decrease, whaling culture only consists of about 1,000 people, but Japan has recently increased subsidies of the whaling industry to $400 million. The profit gained from whaling only amounts to about $45 million. Government officials say that whaling is an important cultural tradition and reducing subsidies would cause undue suffering in whaling communities with subsistence economies. There is much debate as to whether or not commercial whaling is further harming certain endangered whale species populations, but the number of whales killed has been significantly reduced since the moratorium. Alternatives to making whaling completely illegal include tradable whale quotas similar to the emissions cap-and-trade market.

  Comparable to the endangered rhinoceros populations in Zimbabwe, I think that whaling populations could be more easily maintained with strict property rights perhaps including marking whale herds that migrate globally or simply owning certain hunting or touring grounds. In regards to subsidizing a dying industry, perhaps the money should go back to disaster relief (from which a large sum was taken) and some of the money should be used to help whalers learn other trades that are more economically viable. Tradition and culture are generally not good reasons to mess with the market.

--Jacquelyn Picciani

No comments:

Post a Comment