Pillar 4

Behavioral experiments to elicit preferences that matter in the design of fishery management interventions

There is no one-size-fits all policy solution for successful small-scale fisheries management. The emerging consensus in the social science literature is that certain conditions are usually necessary but not sufficient for successful management: (i) clearly defined boundaries with restrictions on access, (ii) monitoring and punishment, and (iii) democratic decision-making. However, there are a myriad of other factors that influence the success of a fishery management intervention, especially in weak enforcement settings. An MPA might work extremely well in one community but fail in another almost identical community because of differences in cooperation or group cohesion. Some examples of what economists call “behavioral” preferences that might influence the success of a fishery policy include:

  • Social preferences and inequity aversion (my welfare depends on how well everyone else is doing)
  • Conditional cooperation (I am willing to sacrifice to help the group as long as everyone else is doing the same)
  • Loss aversion (uncertain losses loom larger than uncertain gains)
  • Uncertainty aversion (prefer a worse outcome because it’s certain)
  • Time inconsistency (present bias, non-standard discounting)