Home > Uncategorized > A few thoughts from Japan on unowned/common resources, governments and whale PR wars

A few thoughts from Japan on unowned/common resources, governments and whale PR wars

 I left this comment on a post at Andy Revkin’s Dot Earth/NYT blog about the January run-in between the Sea Shepherd organization and the Japanese whaling fleet (emphasis added):

January 11th, 2010
3:50 pm
Andy, this dispute is in some ways very similar to the range wars between ranchers, shepherds and farmers, with all sides fighting over a resource that the federal government recognized no one as owning.

Laws re the high seas, whaling and trade in endangered species likewise prevent resource management by those interested, and encourage the use of violence, PR and politics to settle disputes.

The Sea Shepherd and others have just as much claim to protect whales as the whalers have to catch them. Too bad both sides are invested in this dispute, instead of focusing on the common goal of building sustainable fisheries worldwide.

One irony/compounding factor that many overlook is that here [in Japan] whaling fleet is involved. The private whalers have all left the business, which the Japanese government now owns and runs at a loss, cutting off its own nose to spite the enviros. Ego (and group pride)  [and political grandstanding] so often wins out over long-term interest!

I note that I’ve commented on whaling and fishery issues (including salmon and tuna) any number of times.
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  1. TokyoTom
    August 15th, 2010 at 22:49 | #1

    PO, thanks for further comment. Your suggestion obviously can work only when all governments reach a shared conclusion to protect “really big fish” and implement taxing policies, since otherwise, what’s to require Japan or any other nation to do anything?

    Rather than internationally coordinated tax policies, might it not be easier for the countries concerned to set up some type of property rights regime, like we see for certain other fisheries?

  2. Prevalent One
    July 31st, 2010 at 10:15 | #2

    Eventually the Japanese man is going to return to Japan with his harvested whale where he can be regulated, taxed, etc.

    You’re making this way too complicated, whales in your possession can be treated as really big fish, subject to a really big tax, as big as needs be to protect fisheries.

  3. TokyoTom
    July 30th, 2010 at 10:48 | #3

    PO, you’re misunderstanding markets, pricing and protection.

    It seems you’re saying governments should be setting prices for whales – how, unless it auctions off catch rights?

    Prices motivate sellers/suppliers to take valuable resources; but the problem with many resources is that the resources aren’t owned or can’t be protected – or are owned by governments and prices set don’t reflect preferences of competing users or costs to others (like Sea Shepherd, or fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico).

    To solve whaling and fisheries problems, we need a shared management system/property rights system that has the right to exclude others.

  4. Prevalent One
    July 28th, 2010 at 03:55 | #4

    You are an articulate writer. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m willing to limit the rights of groups here but to me, it’s a tragedy if an individual Japanese man does not have the right to get in his boat and catch a whale. If to legitimately protect fisheries it needs to cost 5000 yen per harvested whale, ok.

  5. TokyoTom
    July 25th, 2010 at 13:41 | #5

    Who is to “put a high price of whales” if no one owns them?

    But isn’t that EXACTLY what Sea Shepherd is trying to do, by harrassing and publicizing the Japanese fleet?

    And how does one go about homesteading the wild, except by staking a claim and using force or the threat of it to defend it?

  6. Prevalent One
    July 23rd, 2010 at 17:49 | #6

    This seems to me to be fallacy of two wrongs make a right.
    I am fully for embarrassing and thwarting all Govts, but not by initiating force. Enviro-altruists have no ability to care for animals or ecosystems and are vile second handers. Using force to bring morality is wrong for Govts and for pressure groups. A better avenue is to put a high price on whales and GreenPeace can monitor harvest and payment due.
    I am with you wanting men of ability who can homestead the planet. They would have skills to increase/decrease fertility. They would enforce a barrier between wild and civilization to protect each from the other. Any man would be free to enter this enforced wilderness but could bring no technology, only a rescue beacon. All men need not surrender their ability to live in the ancient ways.

  7. TokyoTom
    July 23rd, 2010 at 11:10 | #7

    Dear PO:

    Who owns the oceans? The Japanese government, which itself steals from its taxpayers to conduct these whaling operations at a loss?

    I understand the urge to hate those disgusting, nasty enviros, but where are the property rights that allow enviros to express their preferences through market transactions? Can’t these disgusting groupos be seen as a project to homestead the oceans? Is that wholly a bad thing?

    Battlefield of ideas? Haven’t the enviros run rings around the Japanese in that arena?

    But what the heck is this “ideas” nonsense about, anyway? Why would that even be an issue, except for the utter lack of property rights, and the active interference of governments?

    Enviros certainly can’t go head to head against governments in a showdown of force, but they can certainly try to grandsytand and to embarrass the Japanese, aqnd they’ve been very succcessful at it. I think they’ve actually distracted/detracted from bigger issues of overfishing, but libertarians expressly recognize the validity of moral suasion and marshalling public opinion.

    I profoundly disagree with the Japanese government, which is ripping off its own taxpayers, giving itself a black eye, AND distracting/detracting frommore important issues of how to manage crashing ocean fisheries.

    Similarly, I think Sea Shepherd’s activities are counterproductive, even though they are very popular in Australia, NZ and elsewhere.

  8. Prevalent One
    July 23rd, 2010 at 09:33 | #8

    How about finding a way to lessen or remove the Pacific Garbage Patch and then actually doing it yourself? What a bunch of miserable schmucks. I think Sea Stalker would be a better name. Not exactly Gandhi style nonviolence here. Not sure who gets inspired by their tactics. Instead of trying to win in the battlefield of ideas, their corrosive new breed of altruism seeks to tell others what behavior is acceptable. There’s no negotiating, no compromise with them, every whale must live, even if humans must die? Of course if they ever win the whale war there are the seal and dolphin and so many other wars. Vegan Zombies all of them.

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