Artisanal fisheries are a key source of food and income for millions of people, but if poorly managed, fishing can have declining returns as well as impacts on biodiversity. Management interventions such as spatial and temporal closures can improve fishery sustainability and reduce environmental degradation, but may carry substantial short-term costs for fishers. The Lake Alaotra wetland in Madagascar supports a commercially important artisanal fishery and provides habitat for a Critically Endangered primate and other endemic wildlife of conservation importance. Using detailed data from more than 1,600 fisher catches, we used linear mixed effects models to explore and quantify relationships between catch weight, effort, and spatial and temporal restrictions to identify drivers of fisher behaviour and quantify the potential effect of fishing restrictions on catch. We found that restricted area interventions and fishery closures would generate direct short-term costs through reduced catch and income, and these costs vary between groups of fishers using different gear. Our results show that conservation interventions can have uneven impacts on local people with different fishing strategies. This information can be used to formulate management strategies that minimise the adverse impacts of interventions, increase local support and compliance, and therefore maximise conservation effectiveness.