Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Saving endangered **what**, exactly?

save_the_whale_502135 Here’s a question for you: Is it a waste of resources to try and save the not-endangered whales from whaling when there are plenty of endangered species on which they could concentrate instead?

Conservationist Brendan Moyle says yes.

    “Nearly a third of all amphibian and reptile species are estimated to be in serious risk of extinction. We are at a point where thousands of species are at much greater risk than minke whales. Yet the choice is to take those resources we have and put them into "stopping whaling". Trying to save a small set of species not actually threatened by whaling, and giving up on so many more species that are in more urgent need, isn’t the optimal approach. And the fact that this strategy to stop whaling has not succeeded in 30 years feels like a colossal waste of money.”

But there’s an assumption built into that, notes Eric Crampton: It “assumes that activist attention tends to improve outcomes for the target species.

    “I'd been of the impression that it often did more harm than good, ensuring that property and market based solutions were politically impossible.”

For example:

    “Do the odds of weka meat farming being legalized go up or down if Greenpeace suddenly stops caring about whales and starts caring about weka?”


  1. "Fishermen make two demands, which are taken up by politicians in coastal regions all over the world: they must be allowed to destroy their own livelihoods, and the rest of us should pay for it." - George Monbiot

    Someone tell the Greens. Quotas and subsidies have all but destroyed fish stocks and the marine environment.

  2. Ruth, that's a u-turn from you? I thought that you sympathize or support Greenpeace anarchists? The Greens and Greenpeace are working together hand in hand these days to lobby to ban fishing altogether (their ultimate goal).

  3. I do sympathise with Greenpeace and their actions re whaling Hayden, as the Japanese are acting illegally in my opinion.

    However I have always maintained that ocean property rights are the answer to whaling and over-fishing. I've never supported subsidies which encourage fishermen and corporates to fish long after it would otherwise be unprofitable to do so. And fish stocks recover very quickly if left alone. So the free market is the solution, without a doubt.

  4. Good points - rather see the governmetn put some money into some skinks, and kakariki, fern birds to name a few... and launch a decent expedition on Stewart Island for the kokako. http://roarprawn.blogspot.com/2010/03/sea-ing-sense.html

  5. PC,

    Daniel Hannan, a member of the European parliament spoke in that parliament about exactly your point, but with respect to elephants. Privatise the elephants:

    See: YouTube clip (Hat Tip: Mises blog

    “Mr President, let me tell you the story of two African countries. In 1978 Kenya banned the hunting of elephants and that decision was followed by an almost total destruction of elephant herds in Kenya. Round about the same time – in 1979 – Rhodesia, as it was still called, made elephants the property of whoever’s land they were roaming on. Result – explosion of elephant numbers.

    We in this House do not think of the elephant in the way that the African does. We are not threatened by it; it does not trample our crops; it does not destroy our villages; and it does not damage human health. The only way to prevent local populations from doing the logical thing, which is to eliminate a dangerous menace, is by giving them an incentive in treating it as a renewable resource. This, of course, is what Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – successfully did.

    Environmental policy should recognise the basic
    Aristotelian wisdom that that which nobody owns, nobody will care for.”


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