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Fishery regulation and the economic responses of fishermen: perceptions and compliance

The project will develop and employ a methodology to investigate fishermen's responses, both psychological and behavioural, to fishery regulations. It will then inform the development of fisheries management instruments and governance structures of the results so that compliance levels and the effectiveness of management can be improved.Most fisheries are subject to regulation to a greater or lesser extent, and in many fisheries (including most European fisheries) regulation forms the primary means of controlling levels of resource exploitation. Examples of such regulation would include imposed limits on landings or on fishing time. Other types of regulation are designed to modify patterns of exploitation for biological or social reasons (e.g. conflict resolution). Compliance is necessary in order that regulations achieve their intended objectives. It is therefore important that regulations are designed and implemented in such a way that acceptable levels of compliance are ensured. In most cases, policy-makers and regulatory authorities focus only on the quantity and quality of external enforcement as the key to achieving regulatory compliance, but enforcement is costly. To the extent that regulations can be self-enforcing (i.e. that there is 'voluntary' compliance), the process of fishery management will be more efficient as a result. A better understanding of the factors which will tend to produce self-enforcement has the potential for improving the design and implementation of regulations and hence improving the efficiency of the management

The central aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of the way in which
fishermen respond to regulations. This includes their knowledge of the regulations which
apply to them, their perceptions of the economic implications of regulations, normative
and other psychic responses to regulations (such as judgments about the rightness of
compliance and the perceived legitimacy of the regulations and of the regulatory
authority), their perceptions of the attitudes of fellow fishermen to the regulations, and
how all these factors affect their behaviour, in particular their compliance with regulations.
The detailed objectives are:
1. to develop a methodology to characterise and investigate the regulatory environment of
a fishery from the fishermen's perspective;
2. using this methodology, to investigate the regulatory environment of six case study
fisheries (three in the Atlantic/Channel and three in the Mediterranean);
3. to analyse the results of the case studies in order to derive empirical relationships
between types of regulation, their mode of implementation and the recorded perceptions
and responses of fishermen;
4. to undertake a comparative analysis of the results.

The project will seek to draw conclusions about the importance of various factors in
determining regulatory compliance. It is hoped that the results will inform policy-makers
and regulatory authorities of ways in which regulations could be better designed and
implemented in order to improve levels of self-enforcement in the fishery.


Scientist responsible for the project

Locksway Road
PO4 8JF Portsmouth
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 2392 844230
Fax: +44 2392 844037


Project ID QLRT-1999-01405
Organisation University of Portsmouth
Area 5.4
Start date 01 April 2000
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 107 418 €
Total EC contribution   875 030 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • Istituto Ricerche Economiche per la Pesca l'Aquaco, Italy - IT

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