The enforcement of regulations represents a large part of the cost of any management process. This can be very high where fishers must be forced to comply with regulations rather than where they have a commitment to those regulations. Moving from compliance to commitment can be an important step in increasing management’s effectiveness and reducing its cost.
Unless there is commitment to the operation of management measures, there are likely to be difficulties in getting compliance. Rules not only need the legal framework to enforce them and the political will to implement enforcement but also legitimacy in the eyes of the fishers.
Fisheries management works best if there is good cooperation among the fishers, managers and scientists (Hilborn, 2007a), which enables the beginning of a shift from mere compliance with regulation to a sense of commitment to making the fishery work. As Bennett (2005b) noted, when fishers believe a stock needs supporting, they will agree to limit effort. A key part of the move towards effective management must be a move from fishers’ coerced compliance to management regulation towards one where fishers are committed to the success of the management measures. Otherwise, there will be need to spend large amounts of funds and effort to ensure compliance, which is unlikely to be achieved in developing countries that have financial constraints. Understanding what incentivizes fishers is central to that process (Hilborn, 2007a).