|Abstract: ||Effective fisheries management is limited in the developing world by weak institutions, inadequate financing and a lack of reliable data. Conservation payments are a novel concept in fisheries management. In this thesis I take a multidisciplinary approach to explore whether they could help to address gaps in traditional fisheries management, using the Bangladesh hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery and its ongoing payment scheme as a case study.
I develop a qualitative frame of reference against which current or potential hilsa management interventions could be evaluated, demonstrating that – even in data-limited fisheries – counterfactuals can be developed and used to guide management. In the absence of data for formal evaluation, I then investigate the scope for additionality in hilsa management by assessing the evidence for and against a reconstructed theory of change. Although the potential for overall additionality is equivocal, my findings demonstrate scope for individual elements of the management package to have had additionality, and provide some support for the use of conservation payments.
As is common in artisanal fisheries management, hilsa management is focused on the protection of juveniles. Through population modelling, I demonstrate that size selectivity is much less important than catch volume, in terms of effect on overall hilsa population biomass. This analysis suggests that the targeting of payments would benefit from a more rigorous ecological foundation. Through statistical modelling of household survey data, I find a strong spatial pattern in payment distribution that reflects the political economy of Bangladesh rather than the official social goals of the scheme. I also find evidence of strong trade-offs between social and ecological goals.
Finally, I investigate the potential for Conservation Trust Funds (CTFs) to enhance the sustainability of payments. Developing-world fisheries pose challenges to the translation of conservation payments from concept to reality. I find that CTFs can support and catalyse the development of enabling conditions for sustainable payment institutions, but only if best practice standards are followed. |