Trust in scientists and rates of noncompliance with a fisheries rule in the Brazilian Pantanal
Natural resource rules exist to control resources and the people that interact with them. These rules often fail because people do not comply with them. Decisions to comply with natural resource rules often are based on attitudes about legitimacy of rules and the perceived risks of breaking rules. Trust in agencies promulgating rules in part may determine perceptions of legitimacy of the rule, and in turn depends on individuals’ trust in different agency actors. The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between fishing rule noncompliance and trust in scientists, a key group within management agencies. We interviewed 41 individuals in one rural fishing community in the Brazilian Pantanal from April to August, 2016, to assess (1) noncompliance rates, (2) noncompliance-related attitudes, and (3) the relationship between trust in scientists and noncompliance decisions in the region. We found that among study participants, noncompliance was common and overt. Trust in scientists performing research in the region was the best predictor of noncompliance rate with a fishing rule (nonparametric rank correlation ρ = -0.717; Probit model pseudo-R2 = 0.241). Baseline data from this research may help inform future interventions to minimize IUU fishing and protect the Pantanal fishery. Although our results are specific to one community in the Pantanal, trust in scientists is potentially an important factor for compliance decisions in similar situations around the world. These results build not only on compliance theory but also speak to the important role that many scientists play in rural areas where they conduct their research.