Change has become a pervasive global force with implications for the sustainability of social–ecological systems. In this context, understanding how much disturbance systems can absorb, where critical thresholds lie, and what systems might look like if a threshold is crossed are critical research questions. This paper explores resilience and social thresholds in two coastal communities in Mozambique by having fishers define their system identity, identify potential system thresholds, and explain how they would respond to crossing a threshold. A 90 % decline in current catch rates would represent a threshold for both communities. Fishers with strong attachment to occupation would respond by migrating permanently to new fishing grounds, whereas fishers with strong attachment to place would respond by changing their professions while remaining in their community. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of social threshold data for fisheries governance.