Skip to main content

2015-10-08 | project

Performance based payments for protecting turtles: understanding the conditions for its success

In one of the major nesting beaches (La Flor), the Nicaraguan government has made an effort to enforce the prohibition to harvest by defining a protected area patrolled by governmental officers, and the army. However the effectiveness of this policy is questioned, particularly because of the difficulties to exclude people from turtle’s habitat, and the scarce governmental budgets dedicated to the enforcement of these regulations. 

Despite the legal ban on turtle egg harvesting, poaching and consumption are very common in Nicaragua. Although there is variation among species, one sea turtle nest may provide up to ten dozen turtle eggs. Poachers sell captured eggs (1.50–3.00 US$ per dozen eggs) to a middlemen who brings the eggs to urban centers where they are sold at public markets and restaurants.To characterize local livelihoods and to understand the motivations of local villagers to devote time and resources to extract and sell turtle marine eggs. Special attention will be given to investigate the role of external regulations, such as strong regulations with sanctions (“stick” type policy) and performance-based payments (“carrot” type policies) on the individual decision to harvest and sell eggs. 

The study of performance based payments for marine resources is a relatively new topic in the literature and in policy design, the scholarly community will benefit from the publication of an empirically grounded paper that evaluates the factors that explain the participation of natural resource harvesters in these programs.

Because the performance based program in La Flor has been recently implemented and little is known about the livelihoods of villagers, our findings would help local officials, local leaders and conservationists from NGO to increase the participation of villagers into this program as well as its effectiveness and long term sustainability. Understanding the motivations to break existing regulations to protect turtles could help to design/modify institutions (incentives) to align private interests to those of conservation.