Sustainability of a Common Pool Resource Under an Open Access Regime Over Time: The Case of a Coastal Lagoon in Colombia

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



"The main goal of this research is to analyze the long-term sustainability of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (CGSM) based on some of the most relevant socioeconomic, ecological, and institutional changes that it has suffered between 1993 and 2018. The CGSM is an estuarine lagoon located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, characterized by an open access regime. The CGSM is the coastal lagoon ecosystem that provides most of the fishery resources in the country, and about 30,000 people (3,500 active artisanal fishers and their families) depend economically on this ecosystem. Despite its importance, the CGSM has been affected by various anthropogenic activities for several years. Important factors affecting the ecosystem are the construction of a highway, between 1956 and 1960, along the northern part of the lagoon which closed its natural connection with the Caribbean Sea, the contamination of its waters, and the reduction of water flow from the rivers that provide freshwater to the lagoon and the overfishing. To analyze the long-term sustainability of this lagoon, we combine previously existing data on various socioeconomic, ecological, and institutional variables with our own primary data on some social and institutional aspects of fishery management in this lagoon. This has allowed us to examine the CGSM’s sustainability over time. Although the CGSM is one of the socio-ecological systems with more academic and technical studies in Colombia, there is a scarcity of research analyzing jointly, in the long term, the ecological state with the socio-economic contributions for the management of resources in this ecosystem. It is due mainly to the lack of historical data on social and institutional topics. Thus, this study not only contributes to the literature on collective action for managing common pool resources and social-ecological systems, but it also provides new information that complements the current scientific knowledge that exists about this important coastal ecosystem. The results show an incipient recovery of the lagoon system in ecological terms and a lag performance on economic and institutional. Likewise, we found the ability of the fishing community to respond to natural and human changes has varied through time."