Levy on whale watchers proposed

LOCAL whale watchers could be charged a levy to compensate whaling nations for ending their hunts, a researcher says.

Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor Clevo Wilson said whaling nations would face job and financial losses if they stopped their hunts.

Any push to end whaling must address those issues and a levy on the whale-watching public and industry was one solution.

“Traditional communities in whaling countries fear their livelihoods and their way of life would disappear if they were to stop killing whales,” said Prof Wilson, from the university’s School of Economics and Finance.

“Hence, the pressure on whaling governments to continue the practice. But the opposite is true for countries that oppose whaling and run whale-watching industries where live whales are the valuable resource.”

He said whale watching was an increasingly popular and profitable ecotourism industry worldwide.

“In Australia, whale-watcher numbers have more than doubled from 730,000 to more than 1.6 million between 1998 and 2008.”

He said threatening to take the Japanese to the World Court was a weak plan and was doomed to fail, given whales were a mobile resource that didn’t belong to any one country.

“If the countries in which whales are worth more alive than dead were charged a small levy of, say, $A5 per whale-watching tourist, whale-watching countries could compensate those for whom a dead whale is worth more,” he said.

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