This article presents findings on the current state of fisheries governance in South Asia from the perspective of legal pluralism. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork in six coastal districts of India and Sri Lanka and focuses on resource health and allocation. We suggest that interactions between state and non-state systems vary, and include indifference, conflict, accommodation and mutual support. None of the studied governance patterns appear to have been able to halt or reverse overfishing, though we identify some positive local innovations. The situation is more promising with regard to resource allocation. Fairness in allocation emerges as a prime concern of most non-state legal systems in South Asian fisheries, and state agencies do tend to become involved in resource allocation if non-state fishery authorities fail to achieve it. We conclude by arguing that addressing resource health and allocation concerns will require increased state and non-state cooperation.