Private property rights, such as individual transferable quotas, are thought to encourage fishers to act as resource stewards. To achieve this, however, fishers must be able to cooperate with each other. This paper examines the relationship between trust, cooperation and stewardship in five abalone (Haliotis) fisheries in southeastern Australia. Industry-led resource management initiatives are used as indicators of stewardship, sometimes including substantial sacrifice of catch quota. Higher levels of trust and cooperative capacity enabled greater levels of industry-based resource management in four of the five fisheries. In one case, however, high levels of trust and cooperative capacity did not translate into associated levels of resource management. It is suggested that additional factors, such as perceptions of resource condition, are key determinants of resource stewardship. Private property rights may, therefore, be less important than previously argued.