Time preferences and the management of coral reef fisheries


To investigate a potential relationship between financial and marine resource use decisions, we conducted a time preference experiment with 153 fishers and 197 SCUBA divers on Curaçao and Bonaire. The experiment was part of a socioeconomic survey wherein interviewees were asked about their fishing and diving practices, views on fish population and coral reef health, and preferred marine resource management approaches. We use a βδ-model to identify discounting and present bias. Divers had a mean individual discount factor (IDF) of 0.91, significantly higher than fishers' mean of 0.82. Fishers and divers had similar distributions of IDFs and present bias; overall 66% of interviewees were non-biased, 22% future-biased, and 12% present-biased. IDFs and present bias were able to predict management preferences after controlling for demographic factors. However, the effect of discount factors is unique to divers, and the effect of present bias is concentrated among fishers on Curaçao. Differences in time preferences between fishers and divers should be considered when developing management strategies. Transfer payments from the dive industry could facilitate a transition to sustainable fish- ing practices. Establishing property rights alone may not be sufficient for ensuring sustainability if fishers are present-biased and greatly discount the future. 

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