Livelihoods Characterization of a Small-Scale Fishing Community in the Colombian Caribbean


  • Jorge Higinio Maldonado Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia
  • Rocío del Pilar Moreno-Sánchez Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia
  • Myriam Elizabeth Vargas-Morales Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia
  • Emilio Leguízamo Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia



Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA), small-scale fisheries, assets, poverty, education gap, food security, Colombia


Coastal communities depending on small-scale fisheries (SSFs) are poorly understood. Designing policies to address their vulnerabilities requires understanding the socioeconomic context in which SSFs operate. Unfortunately, that information is usually incomplete in developing countries. This study seeks to close this gap by examining the socio-demographics, assets, livelihood strategies, food security, and poverty levels of both fishing and non-fishing households in a fishing village in the Colombian Caribbean. The analysis follows the sustainable livelihoods approach. Our results show that: (i) SSFs play a double role in fishing households: self-consumption and income generation. (ii) SSFs play an essential role in food security for both fishing and non-fishing households. (iii) Livelihood diversification, including multispecies fishing and activities by household members in addition to the head, is key for diversifying risk and smoothing consumption. (iv) Fishing communities face significant restrictions in access to financial markets. (v) Although fishing households earn more income than non-fishing ones, they exhibit lower education and literacy. These results show that SSF is a buffer against the vulnerability of fishing communities. Strict conservation strategies might be necessary to sustain SSF, but these must be accompanied by alternative income sources, such as compensation schemes, social protection, or policies enabling alternative livelihoods.

JEL Codes: D13, I21, J22, J46, Q22, Q56


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Author Biographies

Jorge Higinio Maldonado, Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia

Rocío del Pilar Moreno-Sánchez, Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia

Myriam Elizabeth Vargas-Morales, Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia

Emilio Leguízamo, Department of Economics Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá – Colombia


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How to Cite

Maldonado, J. H., Moreno-Sánchez, R. del P., Vargas-Morales, M. E. and Leguízamo, E. (2022) “Livelihoods Characterization of a Small-Scale Fishing Community in the Colombian Caribbean”, Marine and Fishery Sciences (MAFIS), 35(2), pp. 181–210. doi: 10.47193/mafis.3522022010504.