Environmental Conservation


Heterogeneity in fishers' and managers' preferences towards management restrictions and benefits in Kenya


a1 Wildlife Conservation Society, Marine Programs, Bronx, NY 10460, USA

a2 Coral Reef Conservation Project, PO Box 99470, Mombasa 80107, Kenya

a3 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia


Increasing the chances that resource users engage in and comply with management regulations is a continual problem for many conservation initiatives globally. This is particularly common when resource users perceive more personal costs than benefits from specific management actions. Analysis of interviews with managers and fishers from 22 landing sites along the coast of Kenya indicated how key stakeholders perceived the scale of benefits and costs from different management strategies. Potential underlying causes of divergent perceptions towards different management tools were evaluated, including marine protected areas, no-take fisheries closures, gear use, minimum size of fish caught and species restrictions. The analysis identified three distinct opinion groups: (1) a group of nine landing sites that scaled their preference for most management restrictions neutral to low, with exceptions for minimum sizes of captured fish and gear restrictions; (2) a group of eight landing sites that scaled their preference for the above and species restrictions and closed season higher, and were more neutral about closures and marine protected areas; and (3) a group containing four landing sites and the managers’ offices that rated their preference for the above and closed areas and marine protected areas as high. Logistic regression was used to examine whether these groups differed in wealth, education, age, perceptions of disparity in benefits, dependence on fishing and distance to government marine protected areas. The most frequent significant factor was the resource users’ perceived disparity between the benefits of the management to themselves and their communities, with the benefits to the government. Consequently, efforts to reduce this real or perceived disparity are likely to increase adoption and compliance rates. Most widespread positively-viewed restrictions, such as gear use and minimum size of fish, should be promoted at the national level while other restrictions may be more appropriately implemented at the community level.

(Received August 04 2011)

(Accepted May 03 2012)

(Online publication July 18 2012)


  • authority;
  • co-management;
  • democracy;
  • fisheries regulations;
  • governance;
  • local ecological knowledge;
  • socioecological systems


c1 Correspondence: Dr Timothy McClanahan Tel: +254 734 774 225 e-mail: tmcclanahan@wcs.org