The management of small-scale fisheries (SSF) around the world is facing increasing demands for reformation given ecological, social, and economic vulnerabilities. The governance of SSF is particularly important to foster the sustainability of these systems given that it combines regulatory instruments, interactive participation of diverse stakeholders, and the guiding values that influence participation and the creation of regulations. Belize is one the first countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region to implement a nationwide rights-based fishery approach to recover its fisheries and restore its marine ecosystems. Using a policy analysis, I found that the introduction of the approach was a rebranding of unenforced regulations already included in the State’s laws. The introduction of the approach however, has been met with mixed reactions from fishers, non-governmental agencies, and the government agency. These mixed reactions from stakeholders highlighted the need to consider the diverse perceptions that are at play within the industry. With a cognitive mapping approach, I confirmed the diversity of mental models of stakeholders around the implementation of the MAP and question fallacy that there is only one expert in management. This project demonstrates that the introduction of rights-based fisheries and fisheries reformation in SSF does not automatically equate to sustainability. Instead, its initial results suggest the need to consider the appropriate incentives for resource users, the enabling institutions that support the policy, and the inclusion of all stakeholders view in the decision making process. The combination of these components may help to provide the foundation for the sustainability of Belize’s SSF reform.