Behavioural ‘nudges’ may improve compliance by recreational fishers compared to the traditional regulatory approach of ‘punitive deterrence’. However, there are few examples of behavioural based approaches actually being used.
Following Thaler and Sunstein’s 2008 ‘Nudge’ and also Thaler’s award of the 2017 Nobel prize in economics, there is much interest in how ‘nudges’ can be used to enhance a range of policy and regulatory settings. In this ‘on trend’ paper, the authors consider the capacity for nudges to enhance recreational fishing compliance.
The authors highlight that recreational fishing is enjoyed by around 11% of the global population, providing a host of social economic and health benefits, including providing a source of protein. However, many recreational fisheries are regulated under open access regimes which make them prone to over-exploitation.
Given the conservation value of better achieving fisheries compliance, the authors consider how nudges could be applied in this context. They conclude that certain nudges could complement the traditional ‘regulatory deterrence’ approach to compliance (i.e. catch, fine, release). Potentially helpful nudges in this context are: framing, changing the physical environment, presenting default options, and social norms. The authors also wisely recommend caution.
And despite their potential advantage, the authors found very few examples of behavioural-based measures currently in use.
This paper provides a good example of how to begin thinking about how nudges (and behavioural insights in all their glory) may be considered and applied to enhance regulatory outcomes that contribute to conservation. It begs the question: how might you use nudges and behavioural insights in your field?