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Balancing carrots and sticks: incentives for sustainable hilsa fishery management in Bangladesh

Fisheries play an important role in meeting global food demands. But coastal fisheries are in decline due to overfishing – and fisheries management in developing world countries is also complicated by significant poverty levels. In response, fisheries managers are increasingly using economic incentive-based approaches to reward beneficiaries – such as fishers – for complying with legislation aimed at sustainably managing the resource.

One of the rare examples of both mismanagement and restoration of fisheries using an economic-incentive mechanism is Bangladesh’s most important single-species fishery: hilsa. In 2004, a scheme was developed to support hilsa management in Bangladesh. But inadequacies were identified with the regulatory framework and the compensation scheme. This synthesis report is the outcome of a Darwin Initiative-funded project which has sought to improve the effectiveness of the incentive-based hilsa management scheme. It assesses the current ecological and socio-economic dynamics of hilsa fishery management in Bangladesh. The outcomes and recommendations should be of much use in hilsa fisheries management and improving the livelihoods of fishing communities.

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Dewhurst-Richman N, Mohammed EY, Ali ML, Hassan K, Wahab MA, Ahmed ZF, Islam MM, Bladon A, Haldar GC, Ahmed CS, Majumder MK, Hossain MM, Rahman A and Hussein B (2016) Balancing carrots and sticks: incentives for sustainable hilsa fishery management in Bangladesh. IIED, London.