Behavioral responses to competing incentives and disincentives: Compliance with marine mammal protection
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Behavioral responses to competing incentives and disincentives: Compliance with marine mammal protection

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    In 2010, the Northeast U.S. sink gillnet fleet faced threats of indefinite closures to fishing if compliance rates with acoustic deterrent devices did not increase. Simultaneously, a catch share program with multiple “sectors” was implemented for groundfish, an important target for this fleet. This research examines whether the threat of closures, the transition to sectors, or both, influenced the increased compliance rate after 2010. We learned in focus groups [9], that some fishers left off one pinger for safety reasons. A multinomial logit model using deterrent (perceived likelihood of the detection of non-compliance), economic, and normative (social, cultural, legitimacy) factors was developed to understand three responses: full compliance, non-compliance (multiple pingers missing), and non-compliance presumed to be related to safety (single pinger missing). At-sea observers collect compliance data. Results suggest observed vessels in the single-pinger-missing violation group were not responsive to the threat of consequence closures, while the multiple-pingers-missing group were. This reveals the importance of fisher input in constructing models. The model did not find sector membership to be significant. We suspect there may be an influence that varies across sectors. Non-compliant vessels with lower inconsistent observer coverage were more likely to be non-complaint, suggesting compliance overall may be increased through “nudging,” a behavioral economics concept, via increased observer coverage. Increased observer coverage may be more cost-effective than increased enforcement. It is important to understand that regulatory change can introduce multiple incentives and disincentives influencing behavioral responses, as implemented in the 2010 Northeast U.S. groundfish gillnet fleet.
  • Source:
    Marine Policy 132 (2021) 104674
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    CC BY
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