On the Resumption of Commercial Whaling: The Case of the Minke Whale in the Northeast Atlantic


  • Jon Conrad
  • Trond Bjørndal




Animal population, Economic feasibility, International Whaling Commission, Minke whales, Sustainable economic development, Whaling, Wildlife management, Iceland, Japan, Norway


The International Whaling Commission (IWC) met in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May 1991 to determine whether the five-year moratorium on commercial whaling, implemented in 1986, was to expire or be extended. Japan, Iceland and Norway sought to resume commercial whaling on stocks of fin and minke whales, which they regard as capable of supporting commercial harvest without risk of extinction. The IWC voted to extend the moratorium at least one more year. Iceland has subsequently withdrawn from the IWC, and Norway and Japan are also considering withdrawal. A bioeconomic model is constructed that might be used to manage the industry if commercial whaling is resumed. It is applied to the stock of minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic. The optimal stock and level of harvest depends on eight bioeconomic parameters. For a fleet with average productivity, the stock ranged from 81,052 adult whales, supporting a harvest of 137 animals, to 57,770 adult whales, supporting a harvest of 1675. The price/cost ratio will be important in determining the optimal stock and the long-run viability of whaling.

Key words: economics, commercial whaling, minke whale