The effectiveness and outcomes of management are expected to improve when people are informed, engaged and influential in governance and management procedures. The social-ecological and demographic contexts should, however, influence an individual's perceptions and willingness to engage and access appreciable benefits from management. To evaluate how engagement, procedures and perceived outcomes varied with geographic and social-ecological context, we asked 1582 heads-of-households in 38 fishing villages in four tropical countries to evaluate the benefits of their local fisheries management. Responses to 10 collective action, social performance and management procedure questions fell along three response axes, namely (a) the potential benefits of management, (b) resource status and the reliability of yields and (c) the respondents' ability to influence management decisions. Respondents were most positive about the organization of the existing management systems but more sceptical about their ability to influence decision-making and subsequent yields and resource status. More frequent negative opinions increased with urbanization (distance to cities and population density), which could arise from challenges of group cohesion, local control and subsequent management efficacy. Consequently, we argue that some common rural, decentralized, or collective fisheries management systems are inappropriate for engaging participation in urban contexts. Across all locations, there is a need to increase participation with management decisions and actions, and to transparently evaluate and respond to resource and yield outcomes. Crafting recommendations appropriate for urban contexts will be increasingly relevant as urbanization and commercialized fisheries expand in tropical countries.
- common property
- coral reefs
- human development
- Ostrom's institutional design principles
- small-scale fisheries