Case Study

Insights and Interventions for Small Scale Fisheries - Dalberg Global Development Advisors




Project Overview

Implementing Team

Dalberg Global Development Advisors (DGDA) 

Dalberg's Design Impact Group (DIG)


Rockefeller Foundation Ocean and Fisheries Initiative

Additional Resources


Around the world, fisheries provide livelihoods and food security for billions of people. The inability to meet the demand for fish spurs overfishing, destructive and/or illegal fishing practices. This is further driven by a misallocation of incentives and investments that are viable and sustainable. With the risk of the global marine risk collapsing, so do the livelihoods opportunities of many fishery dependent communities. Small-scale fisheries produce over half of the world’s catch and employ 90% of fishers.  Exploring the opportunities to create impact at scale either through different strategies was a necessary effort to take on.

On xxx (year), Dalberg Global Development Advisors was tasked with creating a portfolio of interventions to enable transitions to sustainable practices in fishery communities throughout Mexico, Chile and Indonesia. In order to do this it was essential to analyze how fishing communities secure their livelihoods and identify what practices could support or hinder sustainable management of the fishery. The analysis would come through the  deep understanding of the social, psychological and economic factors that drive fisher’s decisions and motivate their actions.


Methods in Action



Field ethnographic research

This activity helped to better understand individual and group level incentive and behavior patterns at the fisher and fishery level. There was a threefold process which included focus groups with different stakeholders (industry, government, academia, fishers’ leaders); field visits to the fishery villages and processing plants as well as household visits.  This approach helped informed the design of  interventions that will support the transition to sustainable practices in fisheries.

Design labs

During two design labs with over 20 in-country implementers, the team used several tools to develop a behavioral model of fisher and community incentives. This model was built at three different levels within a small scale fishery: the fisher, the fishing group and the stock in regards to level of exploitation.  

Fisherman Personas: the personas captured the most common behavior patterns of fishers at different stages in their careers.

Journey Maps: these maps illustrated the different paths fishers could take in response of economic, environmental and social  shocks.

Design an Ecosystem Map

From the insight gained in the design labs, the team members started sketching and mapping the ecosystem of fishers and the market. This was a reiterative process that incorporated feedback from field partners.

Creation of solutions portfolio and roadmap

The team created a portfolio of solutions along with illustrative incentive packages that were sensitive to individual and group incentives and behaviors.

Building a system map placing fishers at the center and primary source of sustainable management allowed the team to contextualize and come up with solutions that could be embedded as practices in their daily lives. Sustainable management could increase local yields by more than 40% on average over current levels, helping capture a large part of the $50 billion of value that goes unrealized every year.  It also helped suggest ways in which other stakeholders could support such transition/change.

Opportunity areas

Dalberg identified five opportunity areas for the Rockefeller Foundation to intervene and scale promising models that would catalyze change among small scale-fisheries.  These are: 1. Empowering fishers, 2. Supporting collective action, 3. Market driven finance, 4. Enhanced data collection and 5. Capturing price premiums.

Two Solution Pilots

Along with the opportunity areas, Dalberg designed two solution pilots that illustrated real life examples of the opportunity areas and the benefits for different stakeholders.

The Fisher Stewardship Program in Indonesia:  The Fisher Stewardship Program (FSP) provides temporary income support through direct cash transfers and subsidized sustainable gear to fishers who adopt sustainable fishing practices. The program secures fisher livelihoods through a transitional period until stock recovery takes hold, enabling them to adapt practices and invest in sustainability.

The Fisher Knowledge Sharing Platform in Chile: The Fisher Knowledge Sharing Platform helps fishers and their collectives share skills to diversify income streams, improve operational efficiency and safety, and connect directly to buyers willing to pay premiums for sustainable practices and high quality catch.