In the article Confronting Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, Tetsuhiko Endo writes:

In a March 2012 article in Nature, Christopher Costello and Steven Gaines from the University of California, point out that the international whaling industry makes no more than $31 million a year while major anti-whaling NGOs spend around $25 million. What have whales gotten out of all this anti-whaling money? Hunting rates that are twice as high as they were in 1990.

Based on a pubmed search for the two authors, the Nature article referred to is presumably Conservation science: A market approach to saving the whales (paywalled) (paper metrics - tweeted by 50, picked up by 4 news outlets, in the 82 percentile of Nature papers)

I'm suspicious that Endo, or the authors of the Nature paper itself, is comparing two different numbers, such as overall turnover in the anti-whaling activism and the net profit on the part of whaling, to make the numbers look similar.

Is anti-whaling activism almost as big an industry as the whaling industry?

Just to be clear, I'm only talking about comparing anti-whaling activism to the whaling industry, not about comparing either of them to alternative commercial utilisation of whales (for example whale watching being an A$2.1 billion a year industry).

  • Do some of the anti-whaling NGOs also work against whale watching organizations? Dec 13 '14 at 14:15
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    Your suspicion is confirmed by this Wired article: "According to Costello’s estimates, global whaling profits amount to $31 million, and likely less when government subsidies are removed. Mainstream anti-whaling groups — Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund — spend about $25 million to fight the hunts."
    – ChrisW
    Dec 13 '14 at 16:47
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    OTOH ifaw.org/sites/default/files/… claims that whaling is subsidized and a net loss in Japan.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 13 '14 at 17:01
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    An anti-whaling activist told me last year that there needs to be an international ban: a) because whales migrate (therefore it needs to be international); b) because whales reproduce more slowly than we can kill them (therefore it needs to be banned). In fact whales reproduce (i.e. whale populations grow) more slowly than money grows in the bank, so the economically sensible thing to do is to kill them all asap and put the money gained from killing them into the bank.
    – ChrisW
    Dec 13 '14 at 17:10
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    @ChrisW - that's a very... naive economics view. (1) You're assuming that the utility function of a whale is merely what can be gotten from killing one. As the whale-watching industry stat above shows, that's demonstrably untrue. (2) You're forgetting the utility function of not being destroyed by whale-sounding interstellar probe.
    – user5341
    Dec 15 '14 at 21:22

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