Marine Areas for Responsible Artisanal Fishing (AMPR) have emerged as a new model for co-managing small-scale fisheries in Costa Rica, one that involves collaboration between fishers, government agencies and NGOs. This thesis aims to examine the context for collective action and co-management by small-scale fishers; evaluate the design, implementation, and enforcement of AMPRs; and conduct a linguistic analysis of fisheries legislation. The present work relies on the analysis of several types of qualitative data, including interviews with 23 key informants, rapid rural assessments, and legal documents. Findings demonstrate the strong influence of economic factors for sustaining collective action, as well as the importance of certain types of external organizations for community development and co-management. Additionally, significant enforcement gaps and institutional deficiencies were identified in the work of regulating agencies. Legal analysis suggests that mechanisms for government accountability are unavailable and that legal discourse reflects some of the most salient problems in management.