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  • Thumbnail for Does whaling make cents? : A bioeconomic model of the Antarctic minke whale and the Japanese whaling industry
    Does whaling make cents? : A bioeconomic model of the Antarctic minke whale and the Japanese whaling industry by Buchanan, Samuel Prescott

    Japan's whaling fleet and environmental organizations are clashing in the Antarctic Ocean as Japan continues to conduct lethal scientific research on whales, specifically on the Antarctic minke whale (AMW). This conflict and issues surrounding other cetaceans have received substantial media attention in the past few years due to the Sea Shepherds Society's television show entitled Whale Wars and the movie The Cove. These productions succeeded in spreading awareness of Japan's lethal research on whales and harvests of dolphins, but insufficiently explained why Japan is engaging in practices that damage her international reputation. These media productions do not provide bioeconomic analysis modeling whether or not the species is threatened by Japan's actions nor the economics of whaling and Japan's market for whale products. Scientific articles related to the biology of whales, and historical, political, and cultural investigations that provide the foundation for the whaling conflict do not explore if Japan's lethal scientific research threatens the AMW with extinction nor explore the economics of Japan's whaling industry and domestic market if commercial whaling were to resume. This thesis aims to answer these questions by constructing a bioeconomic model composed of biological parameters and data from Japan's whaling fleet to estimate various sustainable catch yields and the corresponding AMW population sizes, Japan's seasonal effort in catcher-boat hours, and seasonal sustainable revenues. The eventual equilibrium population and sustainable catch yield if Japan maintains its current harvest effort, the maximum sustained yield, the condition of zero net revenue, and the condition in which the discounted total present value for all future whaling revenue is achieved will be explored in particular. The results conclude that Japan's current scientific research does not endanger the AMW, and furthermore concludes that whaling is not only profitable, but the industry capacity, high costs, and shrinking domestic demand discourage overharvesting that could lead to the collapse of the species