Assessing a social norms approach for improving recreational fisheries compliance
This study aimed to assess the suitability of the Berkowitz' (2005) social norms approach (SNA) for improving compliance behaviour amongst recreational fishers. A total of 138 recreational shore anglers were interviewed in Eastern Cape, South Africa and asked about their compliance, attitudes towards compliance, perceptions of compliance and the attitudes of other anglers. Results indicate that angler compliance for individual regulations was relatively high (75%–90%). Attitudes of anglers towards compliance was positive, with >80% feeling that “breaking any regulation is wrong.” Yet, as predicted by the SNA, interviewees often overestimated the non-compliance and negative attitudes of other anglers, particularly as their social proximity decreased. Interviewees with the greatest misperceptions were also less compliant. The social norms present in the Eastern Cape rock and surf fishery fulfil the criteria required for the application of the SNA, suggesting that this approach may provide a suitable normative intervention for improving compliance to be used in conjunction with instrumental approaches in recreational fisheries.