1. Researchers evaluated heterogeneity in governance principles, which are increasingly important tools for natural resource management with communities and co-management arrangements, by asking 449 people in 30 fishing communities in four East African countries to rate their effectiveness.
2. Overall, group identity, group autonomy, decision-making process, and conflict resolution principles were perceived to be most effective and likely to be enforced by repeated low-cost intragroup activities; while graduated sanctions, cost-benefit sharing, and monitoring resource users, fisheries, and ecology were the least scaled principles and less affordable via local control.
3. The researchers concluded that management effectiveness in resource-limited situations depends on distributing power, skills, and costs beyond fishing communities to insure conservation needs are met.