Saving the whales: Lessons from the extinction of the eastern Arctic Bowhead

Robert C. Allen, Ian Keay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we investigate the possibility that a regulatory regime designed to maximize the profitability of the early Dutch whaling industry could have simultaneously guaranteed the biological sustainability of the eastern Arctic Bowhead whale. We find that policies with economic profit as the sole objective could have saved the whales, as well as increasing the incomes of the whalers, under assumptions commonly made in fisheries models. However, the necessary assumptions are implausible. Under more historically relevant assumptions we find that regulation could not have simultaneously increased profits and preserved the stock of whales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-432
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Economic History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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