Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Conservation Science and Practice




Noncompliance is a central challenge for conservation, but in settings with limited access to behavioral data, it can be difficult to evaluate what drives compliance. Conservationists can measure and evaluate resource users' attitudes, and in so doing, leverage a complementary, nonbehavioral measure for evaluating compliance. In Greenland, wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fishers are under increasing regulatory pressure to report salmon catch because the majority of North Atlantic salmon stocks are classified as suffering. The objective of this study is to measure salmon catch reporting compliance, reporting behavior, and attitudes toward Greenland's salmon management. We surveyed Greenland's licensed salmon fishers, used an unmatched count technique to estimate the incidence of underreporting salmon catch, and linked salmon fishers' actual catch reports to their survey responses. In 2019, more than 84% of salmon fishers reported their catch and demonstrating high levels of compliance. We also found that salmon fishers did not indicate strong instrumental motivations for reporting, but exhibited moral obligations and normative, legitimacy-based motivations to report catch. Salmon fishers found regulations to be fair, and that regulatory authorities were professional and acted honestly. Catch underreporting was also remarkably low, with 90–94% of respondents stating that they report all their catch. Joining together individuals' attitudinal and behavioral responses to conservation rules illustrates the benefits and limitations of expanding actor-based theories of compliance. This case of already high levels of compliance offers empirical evidence for further improving fisheries compliance, and it also illustrates the limitations that fishery managers face when conserving a highly migratory species.


doi: 10.1111/csp2.12775


Arctic, endangerd species, fisheries, compliance

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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