Non-compliance with marine protected area (MPA) regulations is a problem worldwide, and this is being addressed through community programmes. Park service and fisheries department personnel, and fishers living adjacent to three parks were studied to determine their perceptions of MPAs. The hypotheses that positive perceptions towards the management of fisheries exclusion and gear-restricted areas would increase with the wealth, education, age and years of employment of the person, the history of community participation and the age of the MPA were tested. The strongest factor was employment, with fishers having significantly less positive perceptions towards areas closed to fishing than government managers, although all groups agreed area management benefited the nation. Government personnel thought that fishers and their communities benefited from area management, while most fishers did not share this view. Increasing wealth or community participation were not significant factors, but secondary education was associated with more positive perceptions of area management. Fishers adjacent to the oldest MPA held significantly more positive perceptions than fishers living adjacent to the newest MPA, although only a slight majority agreed that they and their communities benefited. The results point to a need for patience in expecting change in resource users' perceptions, adopting an approach in which there is more communication between fishers and managers, so that both are more aware of MPA functions, particularly closed areas and the indirect benefits.
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