We estimate the risk attitudes of a large sample of small-scale fishers from various fishing communities along the west coast of South Africa, using subjectsâ€™ choices over lotteries with real monetary prizes. We find that participants are moderately risk averse and that risk attitudes vary with certain socio-demographic variables. In particular, females are found to be more risk averse than their male counterparts, while quota holders are more risk loving. Logistic regression analysis indicates that risk attitudes have implications for non-compliance with fisheries regulation. Specifically, greater risk aversion translates into a reduction in the odds of catching illegally. Furthermore, in the case of gender, female fishers and female fishers with fishing rights are more likely to comply with fisheries regulation. These findings have important implications for the characterisation of risk attitudes in fisheries policy applications and for the management of marine resources.