MULTITIP: A full-cycle, multi-methods approach to the Lake Victoria Nile perch fishery
In MultiTip, behavioral and environmental economists, cognitive and environmental psychologists, mathematical modelers, and fisheries experts join forces to investigate how economic, institutional, and cognitive drivers could conspire to cause the long-term irreversible collapse of the Lake Victoria Nile perch fishery, a backbone of local livelihoods. Working empirically and experimentally, conducting field interventions, and integrating the results through analytical and agent-based modelling, the partners will together extend the knowledge base for a better understanding of the coupled socio-ecological system of the Nile perch fishery and for averting deleterious outcomes. The full-cycle, multi-methods approach and the insights so produced also inform future research into tipping points in heavily exploited socioecological systems.
MultiTip’s objective is to apply the conceptual and methodological toolbox of behavioural and environmental economics, cognitive and environmental psychology, and mathematical modelling to stakeholders’ collective management of a freshwater fishery. This fishery, located at Lake Victoria (LV), East Africa, is predicted to be at the brink of a systemic shift, a tipping point, in the population structure of the commercially most important species, the Nile perch. Crossing this tipping point would imply significant socio-economic consequences at local and regional scales. MultiTip will provide key insights on the mechanisms through which system understanding and economic incentives affect collective action and how leveraging these mechanisms through external interventions can help to avoid a potential tipping point. System understanding is operationalized in this context as stakeholders’ beliefs about the causal relationships of relevant system variables (drivers), how these evolve over time (dynamics), as well as stakeholders’ beliefs on external regulations of the system. MultiTip embraces a genuinely mixed-methods approach that combines the use of secondary data, qualitative and quantitative methods with controlled experiments in order to advance a conceptual and analytical toolbox that can be applied to settings that share with LV the common features of collective action, a renewable common-pool resource, and an ecological tipping point related to resource extraction.
MultiTip’s research agenda has been developed in close collaboration with the LV regional and national fisheries organizations, the industry, and NGOs during the preparatory phase of the project. Our work is organized in five work packages.We derive insights from qualitative and quantitative empirical studies (1), test causal relationships in controlled experimental studies (2) and field interventions (3), and finally combine these findings within a mathematical modelling approach (4). These work packages will be accompanied by a comprehensive communication strategy that ensures effective communication management and the dissemination of the results to the relevant stakeholders and the larger public. This full-cycle approach puts us in a position to present high internal and external validity of the project results to derive policy recommendations and ensure that stakeholders are involved in all relevant stages of the project
The MultiTip team
MultiTip consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers that has received money from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung) to implement a three-year research project in LV in close collaboration with stakeholders at the local, regional, and international level.