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Over-Exploitation of the Whale Population

For generations, people have been hunting whales and consuming whale meat and other products. However, with the rise of awareness in conserving the environment and recognizing animal rights, whaling industry has been very controversial. Due to excessive whaling, many whale species almost faced extinction, and many species are still considered endangered species. According to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), many species, including the North Pacific right whale, still have not recovered from excessive whaling and are in the brink of extinction. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, although the IWC banned commercial whaling, Japan, Norway, and Iceland are still catching whales for their private interests. Continued whaling can be a great threat to the whale population.

Even after receiving objections from the International Court of Justice, Japan recently embarked a new expedition to catch 333 minke whales. New Zealand and Australia expressed their strong opposition to the expedition. In response to the objections, Japan explained that it is catching whales for scientific research purposes. This expedition is under Japan’s research program called, NEWREP-A, and Japan is planning to catch at maximum of 333 minke whales every year until 2026 or 2027.

The whale population has been over-exploited partly because the resource is not entitled to anyone, and people do not pay a price for harming the whale population. For the whaling industry, whales can be viewed as a commonly shared resource. Because people are not paying a monetary price for harming the whale population, they are over-utilizing the resource. As a result, the whale population decreases and people may continue to over-exploit the whale population until the actual revenue from the whale hunt reaches zero. Over-utilization of the whale population can cause many whale species to become extinct. A solution to excessive whaling can be setting an additional price for whaling and harming the whale population. Imposing a price for whaling can inhibit people from killing more whales and lead to a socially optimal utilization of the resource. This effort can promote a sustainable whaling industry that helps to maintain a healthy whale population.


IWC- Status of Whales:

IFAW- Which Countries Are Still Whaling?

CNN- Japan defies world as ‘research’ ship embarks on minke whale kill



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December 2015