Monday, March 23, 2009

Seal hunt economics

With the seal hunt kicking off this week, I felt like I'd drop in a few facts.

The DFO tallies the value of seal landings. About $8million in 2008, $31million in 2006. It is unclear how this number is calculated. Is this the commercial price? Retail price? Does it include value-added for processed pelts or flipper pie? I suspect that "landed value" means no.

There are claims that it costs the government of Canada a lot of money to oversee the hunt, maintain medical services for sealers, etc. There appear to be no credible references here. A common number thrown around by animal rights groups is that the hunt costs about $20million of government money to run. The DFO maintains it does not subsidize the hunt. There has certainly been no direct subsidy since 2001. There is certainly some government cost associated with the hunt.

Both the DFO as linked and Greenpeace concede that there are no reliable methods of linking changes in seal population to changes in cod stocks.

I will endeavour not to get mixed up in any of the non-economic issues, though it is clear that a large part of the world either derives disutility from the seal hunt, derives utility from decrying the seal hunt, or some convex combination thereof. If it the former, there is a possibility for a Coasian bargain, i.e. the rest of the world pays off Atlantic Canada to stop the hunt/transport the seals somewhere else. If the latter dominates, then it is optimal for the hunt to continue. You may take the fact that no such bargain has ever approached the table as you will.


Tom said...

Andrew, do you know of any similar international Coase-theorem bargains? I'd guess that if one were to occur it would be in response to the whaling controversy, but I don't know of anything similar.

Stackelberg said...
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Andrew said...

Neither do I, and I can't google anything. Huh. Curious now.