Incentives for coastal conservation and fisheries management

IIED is working with partners to assess, strengthen and scale incentives for coastal conservation and fisheries management across Asia and Africa.

January 2024 - March 2027
Annabelle Bladon

Senior researcher (fisheries), Shaping Sustainable Markets research group

Inclusive blue economy
A programme of work supporting resilient marine and coastal ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them to thrive by aligning incentives with investments
Small fishing boats just off the coast. Another boat on the beach in the foreground.

Saint Martin’s Island is home to thousands of fishers and Bangladesh’s only coral reef (Photo: Annabelle Bladon, IIED)

Coastal resource management and conservation can support sustainable aquatic food systems, with long-term benefits for people, nature and climate. But these interventions often impose costs on coastal communities – for example, a temporary loss of income or food. 

These costs are not only an issue of social equity, but they can also undermine efforts to protect and restore coastal ecosystems and to manage resources for sustainability. 

This can be addressed through incentives, a set of tools to promote stewardship among resource users and strengthen regulatory approaches to conservation and management. 

These can be provided to individuals or communities through a range of different mechanisms, including social protection and labour market systems or payments for ecosystem services

Incentives can be directly linked to specific behaviours – such as compliance with a closed fishing season – or they can indirectly incentivise or enable conservation and sustainable use by reducing vulnerability and building resilience. Examples of indirect incentives are measures that strengthen and diversify coastal livelihoods, develop sustainable markets for marine resources, and secure tenure or other rights of fishing communities.

However, there are challenges around incentives that limit their effectiveness and their uptake, particularly in the marine environment:

  • There is lack of rigorous impact evaluation, and unintended consequences are underexplored
  • Effectiveness is often limited by a lack of attention to equitable governance, and 
  • Innovative financing strategies are required.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is working with partners to enable more effective and more equitable coastal conservation and fisheries management by assessing and strengthening incentive-based approaches, with a focus on Mozambique, Tanzania and Bangladesh. The project has four main objectives:

  1. Build knowledge of opportunities and challenges around incentive-based approaches to coastal conservation and fisheries management, along with capacity for their design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation 
  2. Strengthen institutional and policy environments for incentive-based approaches to coastal conservation and fisheries management in Mozambique, Tanzania and Bangladesh 
  3. Strengthen incentives for conservation and management of selected coastal areas in the target countries, including through impact evaluation and improvements in governance and equity, and 
  4. Ensure financial sustainability of selected incentive-based approaches in the target countries.

This work builds on learning from previous IIED projects, including efforts to strengthen an incentive-based approach to hilsa fisheries management in Bangladesh and to design a similar approach in Myanmar

It also draws lessons from IIED’s global work with the World Bank to leverage social protection and labour market systems, policies and programmes as a means of incentivising more sustainable fisheries management.

The project is part of the Asia-Africa BlueTech Superhighway (AABS) initiative led by WorldFish (2023-30) under the UK’s Climate and Ocean Adaptation and Sustainable Transition (COAST) Programme of the Blue Planet Fund

While our primary goal is to strengthen incentives in the target countries, in the longer term we aim to support scaling of evidence-based incentive models across Asia and Africa through South-South knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Additional resources

Blog: Towards socially just fisheries management and conservation in Bangladesh, Alina Paul-Bossuet, Jeneen Hadj-Hammou (June 2024)

Article: Harnessing South-South collaboration: the Africa-Asia BlueTech superhighway takes off (October 2023)

Video: Connecting social protection and fisheries management, World Bank presentation (May 2022)

Blog: How social protection can support people and sustain fisheries, Annabelle Bladon, Yuko Okamura (May 2022)

Connecting social protection and fisheries management for sustainability: a conceptual framework, Annabelle J Bladon, Gunilla Tegelskär Greig, Yuko Okamura (2022), World Bank Social Protection and Jobs Policy and Technical Note

Myanmar's artisanal hilsa fisheries. How much are they really worth?, Lauren Burcham, Klaus Glenk, Michael Akester, Annabelle J Bladon, Essam Yassin Mohammed (2020), IIED working paper 

The business case for investing in Myanmar’s artisanal hilsa fishery, Annabelle J Bladon, Michael Akester, Lauren Burcham (2020), IIED briefing

Financing Myanmar’s fisheries through fiscal reform, Annabelle J Bladon, Michael Akester, Essam Yassin Mohammed (2020), IIED briefing 

Informing incentive-based management of Hilsa fish in Myanmar – results of a choice experiment, Klaus Glenk et al (2020), IIED working paper

Financing incentive-based hilsa fisheries management in Myanmar through fiscal reform, Klaus Glenk, Paula Novo, Wae Win Khaing, Wint War Lwin, Lauren Burcham, Essam Yassin Mohammed, Khin Maung Soe, Michael Akester, Annabelle J Bladon, Eugenia Merayo (2020), IIED working paper

Balancing carrots and sticks: incentives for sustainable hilsa fishery management in Bangladesh, Nadia Dewhurst-Richman, Essam Yassin Mohammed, Md Liaquat Ali, Kaisir Hassan, Md Abdul Wahab, Zoarder Faruque Ahmed, Md Monirul Islam, Annabelle J Bladon, GC Haldar, Chowdhury Saleh Ahmed, Mihir Kanti Majumder, Md Mokammel Hossain, Atiq Rahman, Belayet Husseinl (2020), IIED issue paper

Social protection for small-scale fisheries in the Mediterranean region – a review, FAO (2019)

Evaluating the ecological and social targeting of a compensation scheme in Bangladesh, Annabelle Bladon, Essam Yassin Mohammed, Belayet Hossain, Golam Kibria, Liaquat Ali, E.J. Milner-Gulland (2018), PLoS ONE 13(6): e0197809.