Jose Urteaga


My research interest is on the governance and sustainable management of marine natural resources in developing countries. I aim to understand how social and institutional arrangements interact to manage diverse habitats and species and how these arrangements are affected by contextual and historical factors.  Nicaragua with its wide range of ecosystems, cultural and social diversity, represents a challenging but remarkable arena to develop my research. 

During the last century the world has suffered accelerated fisheries collapses as a consequence of overfishing and ecosystems damage.  It seems that the oceans future is driven by the tragedy of the commons paradigm, outlined by Hardin in 1968.  This concept describes how users compete to extract the maximum individual benefit of common pool resources, driving these resources to overexploitation. In contrast there are also scenarios in which humans might interact with ecosystems to maintain long-term sustainable resource yields as described by Ostrom and all derived work since the 70’s. 

In Nicaragua, the depletion of the bull shark stock in the Cocibolca Lake and shrimp fisheries in the Pacific Ocean are sad examples of fisheries collapses. But is it possible to avoid the expansion of this overexploitation and poverty spiral? If so what is the role that each stakeholder and especially local communities must plays in different scenarios? What are the conditions that must be in place? And how is the best way in which external organizations might help to achieve these conditions?