Variation in fishers' attitudes within an inshore fishery: Implications for management

Elizabeth A. Richardson*, Michel J. Kaiser, Gareth Edwards-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the incentives influencing the attitudes and behaviour of resource users is a crucial input to the design of institutions for resource management. Typically fishers have been expected to exploit resources in an independent profit-maximizing manner, which is in line with common property theory, although these expectations are not always met because fishers' behaviours and attitudes are generally more heterogeneous than previously considered. Attitudinal differences between participants in the inshore commercial fishery of Wales, UK, were investigated. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 161 fishers from the five main sectors, namely mobile gear fishers, crustacean potters, whelk potters, line/net fishers and transient fishers. Unprompted expressions of attitudes and responses to open-ended questions underwent thematic-coding and were analysed with fishers' responses to structured questions. Investigation into whether the incentive to participate in resource stewardship varied between sectors as predicted by common property theory found attitudinal similarities across the sectors, but also certain important differences. Results suggested an attitudinal continuum, with mobile gear fishers and crustacean potters at the two extremes, and intermediate positions occupied by transient fishers, whelk potters and line/net fishers. Mobile gear fishers believed most strongly that their fishery was controlled too tightly and was impacted by other fishers and other anthropogenic influences. Crustacean potters believed most strongly that conservation of stocks was necessary and that minimum landing sizes were not overcautious. The attitudes that characterized each sector were related to the characteristics of the sector and its resource base, and generally concurred with theoretical predictions. In particular, target species' mobility and past sector experiences predicted the inclination of fishers in each sector towards resource stewardship. The observed attitudinal differences implied varying personal discount rates that may affect how respondents respond to and comply with management tools. Furthermore, attitudinal differences among sectors mean that an effective management tool in one sector may be inappropriate or counterproductive in another.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Conservation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005


  • Attitudes
  • Fishery management
  • Inshore fishery
  • Ownership
  • Personal discount rates
  • Wales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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