Here's a little something written 18 years ago:
The [International Whaling Commission] would be required ... to conserve whales, but could sell annual quotas to the highest bidders. The income would go to running the [IWC], and so the price might be very high, but this would be a realistic value for a whale in the water. Among the bidders would be whalers, putting a value on their products at the margin, where it counts. They know how much profit there is to be made in processing a free whale, and would have to decide how much the raw materials are worth. But conservationists would also be free to bid, replacing rhetoric and campaigns with responsibility and cash. The conservationists could do as they pleased with their quota; they might chose to harvest some for additional funds, or they might exploit their quota benignly by encouraging whale-watchers. Or they might do nothing, simply allowing the whales to multiply.
The Hunting of the Whale: A Tragedy That Must End, The Bodley Head: London, 1988 p 218.
And here's an even littler something from a week ago:
[H]ere is a suggestion: put the whole thing on a proper economic basis. The Japanese fleet is heavily subsidised. Without government cash, there would be less enthusiasm to hunt a creature ever fewer Japanese want to eat. Sadly the commission has no remit over that; but, if it does vote to resume commercial whaling (as it has the right to do), it should not create a system of quotas allocated by country. Instead, it should put whale-hunting rights up for auction, allowing both killers and conservationists to bid. The chances are that those who prefer whales to swim free would be able to outbid the few remaining humans who like eating them.
Too much blubber, The Economist, 15 June 2006.
The Economist appears to have taken up an idea I proposed back then. I suppose that officially makes it A Good Idea.
Later ... Biopolitical had the same idea about seals.