save the whales? put them up for sales!

Few wild animals stoke higher passions than whales.

Environmental groups spend millions each year campaigning against whaling, and some even jump into rubber boats to chase down Japanese whaling vessels. Now three researchers are proposing to resolve the conflict and lower the number of whale deaths by adopting a “cap and trade” system. These ideas have been recently published in a brand new paper in the Nature journal.

Christopher Costello and Steven Gaines of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Leah Gerber of Arizona State University, Tempe, in the paper titled “Conversation Science: A market approach to saving the whales”, sketch out a system that would give countries permits to catch a certain number of whales. The permits could then be traded among stakeholders so that conservation groups in one country, say, could purchase permits from the whalers in another country. The permits would be issued by the International Whaling Commission and capped so that populations are not endangered. “I’m convinced it would work,” says Costello, who says he’s received positive feedback from the whaling industry and environmental groups. The idea is quite controversial.

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