Optimising the efficiency of enforcement in commercial fisheries

Project Number:



Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) WA

Principal Investigator:

John McKinlay

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





The cost of enforcement in most fisheries is substantial. There has been little research on the effectiveness of enforcement measures or the investigation of alternate enforcement strategies. An understanding of the fisher’s perception of the enforcement program, particularly the perceived level of inspections, and how they will respond to changes in enforcement is required to more effectively and efficiently maintain compliance with the regulations. Similarly the relationship between the extent of enforcement effort and the level of compliance is not understood for most fisheries. If the rate of compliance is not overly sensitive to the amount or type of enforcement it may be possible to reduce some elements of the enforcement effort and cost while maintaining an acceptable level of compliance. On the other hand if the rate of compliance is highly sensitive to the amount of enforcement effort it will be possible to determine the amount of effort required to obtain the required level of compliance. The true nature and extent of non-compliance is required to better direct enforcement effort. Spatial and temporal patterns of non-compliance need to be investigated. A better understanding of the motivation for non-compliance, whether the incentive is financial or otherwise, will be gained by comparing expected gains against the likely penalties and probability of detection. This will enable the effectiveness of penalties as a deterrent to be assessed. This information is needed in a form that will enable managers responsible for enforcement activities to explore the effect of the location, timing and type of enforcement activity on the level of compliance.


1. Estimate the level of non-compliance in the Western Australian rock lobster industry.

2. Determine factors such as seasonal, regional and factory, which may affect the level of non-compliance in order to better target the timing of enforcement effort.

3. Develop relationships between enforcement and compliance with the regulations to enable an assessment of increasing or decreasing the level of enforcement on the level of compliance.

4. Determine the reasons and motivations for the non-compliance of commercial fishers with the regulations in terms of the expected gains versus the probability of detection.

5. Ascertain the perceptions of the fishing regulations and enforcement measures including the perceived probability of detection for commercial fishers.

6. Ascertain whether commercial fishers are aware of the full extent and frequency of inspections.

Final Report - 1998/156 - Optimising the efficiency of enforcement in commercial fisheries

Final Report
ISBN:1 877098 13 2
Author(s):John McKinlay
Date Published:March 2004

Principal Investigator: J.P. McKinlay




Key Words:

Enforcement, compliance, legitimacy, deterrence, co-management, western rock lobster, Panulirus cygnus