Incentive-based marine conservation

Large, long-lived marine animals (‘marine megafauna’) – such as sharks and rays – are amongst the world’s most threatened animals, primarily due to overfishing. This threat is wide-spread yet particularly challenging to manage in small-scale fisheries (SSFs), which are often characterised by high household reliance on fisheries; and where all catches, including marine megafauna, have economic or subsistence value. In such fisheries, efforts to conserve marine megafauna can create direct trade-offs between conservation and human well-being.

This project, led by Dr. Hollie Booth, aims to understand and manage such trade-offs, with the overarching aim of identyfing solutions for mitigating overfishing of Critically Endangered marine species, while maintaining or improving the well-being of coastal communities. We focus in particular on Indonesia, which is a global hotspot of marine species diversity and endemicity, and also the world's largest shark fishing nation, with high household dependence on this highly threatened species group

Previous research by our team indicates that incentive-based approaches, such as financial compensation and/or alternatives, represent workable solutions to these trade-offs, which could support marine conservation and social justice. This project builds on this foundational research to understand underlying attitudes, behaviours, norms and incentive structures relating to megafauna catch in a range of SSFs; and use this information to design and test a portfolio of locally-appropriate incentive-based interventions. We are also using cutting-edge methods to evaluate the biodiversity and human well-being outcomes of the interventions across our portfolio of project sites, and seeking to establish sustainable revenue streams (e.g., from dive industry and commercial fisheries).

We are also consolidating learning across projects and working closely with local universities and grassroots NGOs to build human and institutional capacity for ethical and evidence-based marine conservation and interdisciplinary applied research.

Supported by:


Check our local collaborators and project sites below:

Updates from the field

  • June 12th, Aceh, Indonesia: Our first field trial of a compensation-based approach to bycatch mitigation reached more than 700 live releases of Critically Endangered hammerheads and wedgefish. Follow here for live updates.
  • June 26th - 28th, Bogor, Indonesia: Project Leader Hollie Booth visted our partner university in Indonesia - IPB University, in Bogor, West Java - to give research seminars to students and early career researchers on methods for socio-ecological systems research and impact evaluation.
  • June 30th, Bogor, Indonesia: Recipients of our four PhD scholarships - funded by the UK DEFRA Darwin Initiative - were selected by the joing Oxford-IPB committee. Selamat semuanya!
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Selected publications

Booth, H., Ramdlan, M. S., Hafizh, A., Wongsopatty, K., Mourato, S., Pienkowski, T., Adrianto, L., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2023). Designing locally-appropriate conservation incentives for small-scale fishers. Biological Conservation.

Booth, H., Ichsan, M., Hermansyah, R. F., Rohmah, L. N., Naira, K. B., Adrianto, L., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2023). A socio-psychological approach for understanding and managing bycatch in small-scale fisheries. People & Nature.

Booth, H., Mourato, S., & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2022). Investigating acceptance of marine tourism levies to cover the opportunity costs of conservation for coastal communities. Ecological Economics.

Booth, H., Arlidge, S, Squires, D, Milner-Gulland, EJ. (2021). Bycatch levies could reconcile trade-offs between blue growth and biodiversity conservation. Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Booth, H., Squires, D., Yulianto, I., Simeon, B., Muhsin, Adrianto, L., & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2021). Estimating economic losses to small-scale fishers from shark conservation : A hedonic price analysis. Conservation Science and Practice.

Booth, H., Mardhiah, U., Siregar, H., Hunter, J., Giyanto, Putra, M. I. H., Marlow, J., Cahyana, A., Boysandi, Demoor, A. Y. L., Lewis, S., Adhiasto, D., Adrianto, L., & Yulianto, I. (2020). An integrated approach to tackling wildlife crime: impact and lessons learned from the world’s largest targeted manta ray fishery. Conservation Science and Practice.