The level and form of complexity of fisheries and their management is not constant but varies between places. The importance of local context and how it affects fisheries management comes out clearly from many references. Recognizing the importance of the local context in fisheries management and adjusting management measures to accommodate that is very important.
The specific context in which fisheries management is operating will have considerable influence on what works and what does not. In the wider context of wilderness management it has been argued that there are no “right solutions” to management problems and that these should be examined in the context of particular places, peoples, issues, and ecosystems (Belsky, 2000). The local biological, ecological, political economy, and socio-economic aspects of a fishery often determine the success of management initiatives.
What works in developed countries will not necessarily worked in developing countries. Guttiérrez et al. (2011) note that countries with high and very high human development indices (HDIs) were more successful at fisheries management than those with low to medium HDI countries. Andrade and Rhodes (2012) note that whilst there is a positive correlation between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita and compliance with regulations this may well be due to other factors such as political will, corruption, and social inequality. However they also found that population density was negatively correlated with compliance.
Whilst in many parts of the world there is a move towards greater engagement of communities in resource management, this is not always the case. Alpίzar (2006), says of Costa Rica, that the current level of government involvement in marine protection and fisheries management, when compared with that of the community, suggests that at this stage of development a greater role should remain with government. Francis and Bryceson (2001) note that there are weaknesses in both government and traditional institutions in coastal management in Tanzania that need support. Baticados et al. (1998) note that even within the Philippines, fisheries cooperatives on the mainland and on the islands showed significant differences in their capacities.
This pattern of dependence on specific circumstances seems to also affect specific management measures. Robinson (2010, 53) says ”…the first best, ITQs, is barely politically feasible anywhere. Even in the best possible circumstances, in rich, well functioning democracies where the stakes are high, ITQs are highly controversial…If ITQs are not politically feasible in Norway, what chance have they of being adopted in Ghana or Sierra Leone? Very little would be my guess”.