Vulnerabilities of northern Peruvian small-scale fishing communities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic

Adriana Gonzalez-Pestana, Daniela C.S. Thorne, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Jeffrey C. Mangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During periods of abrupt change, understanding sources of resilience for adaptability in small-scale fisheries (SSF) is important for enhancing their sustainability. This study aimed to understand the vulnerability of five diverse SSF communities in northern Peru amid COVID-19, by analyzing key sensitivity indicators that influence their response to the immediate impacts caused by the lockdown and their short-term adaptive capacity. We established a baseline for each fishing community, through socio-economic, fishery-related, and commercialization characteristics. We then assessed fishery changes before and during the first and most restricted lockdown and community responses to the pandemic impact. These were used to generate a score value that ranked the adaptive capacity of each community. Through a regression tree we identified key SI that most influence the communities´ response to COVID-19 impacts. Our results show that the ‘fishing area related to distance from the coast’ was the most important sensitivity indicator as offshore fisheries were riskier (i.e. higher travel costs) than inshore fisheries. The communities that responded better to COVID-19 impacts had high social capital (i.e. self-organization and social learning); while, the least successful communities responded passively. The adaptive strategies of SSF here identified included diversification of fishing activities (i.e., shifting to fishery areas closer to the coast), selling marine products at local markets, fishing fewer days, establishing agreements with authorities, using technology (i.e., digital platforms) in creative ways to enhance local seafood value chains, and combining different types of knowledge from different actors. These strategies fostered the re-organization of the supply chain in which a shift to local markets became a trend. We include a list of recommendations for decision-makers and principal insights related to community resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105503
JournalMarine Policy
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Adaptation
  • Artisanal fisheries
  • Crises
  • Resilience
  • Social capital
  • Supply chain


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