Determining the fishery management in effect for a given species would seem to be a relatively straightforward exercise. Often it is, but sometimes it can be difficult to obtain reliable information on local fishery related laws. This brief section covers several considerations that may need to be made when seeking such information; we do not consider it to be comprehensive but the examples should alert a wary reader to some of the possible problems that might arise.
The obvious place to start when seeking current local legislation is with government offices, most likely fishery departments or divisions or those that deal with fishery issues. Local fishery coops might also be helpful. Whatever approach is used or most convenient, it is advisable to obtain a paper copy of the relevant legislation. The reason for this is that often people who should know the law may not be up to date or may not be fully familiar with all the fine details of the law. How well do you know your own country’s fishery laws? Note also that different jurisdictions may have different laws (e.g., State and Federal laws in the United States), or that some widely respected regulations may not be officially documented such as those where there is traditional marine tenure.
To determine the effectiveness of fishery-related regulations, one must determine the level of enforcement, numbers of enforcement personnel, and it might be valuable to ask about the number of convictions that have been effected. It is also important to determine how information on regulations is disseminated, how familiar local fishers and local judiciary are with the laws and how management might be modified as new information becomes available (i.e., the approach to co-management).
In some regions fisheries are managed at a local level through historical or cultural traditions. Documenting the history and effectiveness of these traditions could be useful for longterm management or allocation disputes as outside fishery influences change the dynamics of the fishery.
All of this information is important, especially if management recommendations are to be made, for understanding what kind of management might be effective, what is likely to be socially acceptable and how robust the recommendations might have to be. Summarizing and documenting management practices is helpful to other scientists/resource managers not familiar with the area you are studying. Finally, summarizing the level of enforcement is important to understand the effectiveness of any management.