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14.4 Protection and recovery of fish stocks: Performance-based funding models help address environmental and fisheries management challenges

Healthy aquatic environments and fish stocks are a prerequisite for the sustainable use of fishery resources. Achieving these requires a wide range of measures and significant financial resources. The growing sustainability gap in public finances calls for improving the effectiveness of public funding and finding new models to address environmental challenges increasingly with private investment capital alongside public funding.

One new and interesting possibility is performance-based funding, which shifts the focus from narrowly defined measures to performance and incentivises effectiveness. Together with our partners, we have produced a report that provides examples of how new performance-based funding models could be applied to different fisheries management projects.

For example, rather than focusing on removing one migratory barrier at a time, it might be more effective to commission an operator to locate and remove several barriers in a single project. One award criterion could be the selection of sites with the greatest potential to increase the natural reproduction of migratory fish. The operator would be responsible for designing and implementing the measures and raising funds from private parties. The government could also pay a small bonus based on pre-agreed indicators, allowing investors to recoup their investment and receive a reasonable return on the financial risk they bear.

Fishery resources would also benefit from the restoration of water bodies. These measures could be implemented on a wider scale in river basins, with results linked to pre-agreed indicators. Measures could include reducing nutrient loads in water bodies, diversifying the environment or regulating fisheries, as appropriate.

The focus should be shifted from individual measures and small-scale projects to broader schemes covering whole water bodies. Ideally, environmental management could become an area of interest for responsible investment.

We aim to pilot new performance-based funding models in 2023.