The Merits of Consensus: Small-Scale Fisheries as a Livelihood Buffer in Livingston, Guatemala

  • Hector AndradeEmail author
  • Georges Midré


Guatemala has among the highest poverty and inequality rates in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. The entire population is affected, but the majority of poor and extreme poor are found among indigenous peoples living in rural areas. It is well documented how privatization and land expropriation have displaced indigenous groups to mountains or scarp terrains sub-optimal for crops, where few income-producing activities are to be found. In these cases, poverty is shaped by marginalization mechanisms related to ethnicity. The Amatique Bay, which is the study site for this chapter, is characterized by semi-open access fisheries available for those who have the knowledge and/or production means to harvest. The lack of resource ownership can be regarded as socially fair, as it does not marginalize groups through allocations of specific access rights. Fisheries may be a social buffer providing work, income, and food, thereby mitigating and/or reducing poverty levels. According to fishers in the area, mechanisms inducing poverty are related to resource degradation due to high fishing intensity, unsustainable fishing practices, and to a lesser extent lack of ­bargaining power. In this chapter, we explore how “Malthusian overfishing” is the result of both internal and external pressures to the fishery, and how fishers believe it can be overcome by trying to control the prevailing conditions that are leading to it.


Bargaining Power Fishing Ground Fishing Gear Gill Netter Fisher Group 
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We would like to thank all the people from Livingston who participated in this work by sharing information with us on their daily lives, including what it is like to be a fisher. As we promised in the interviews, no names are revealed, so therefore we cannot extend more personalized gratitudes. With this work, we hope to contribute to the quest to improve Livingston and fishers’ livelihoods. We also extend sincere gratitude to the Norwegian Research Council for awarding the grant for the PovFish project, and making this research possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian College of Fishery ScienceUniversity of Tromsø, Akvaplan-niva, Fram Centre for Climate and the EnvironmentTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community PlanningUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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