Monthly Archives: June 2012

In for the Long Haul

Mekong Gender and Fisheries Network Meets in Nong Khai, Thailand

Mekong Network for Gender Promotion in Fisheries Development, 13th Meeting

On 21 and 22 June 2012, the world’s longest running gender and fisheries network, the Mekong Network for Gender Promotion in Fisheries Development (NGF) held its 13th annual meeting and field visits to women’s groups for fish processing and aquaculture in the northwest of Thailand . The genesis of the network has been documented in papers by (1) Kathleen Matics in the Asian Women in Fisheries Symposium (1998), (2) M.C. Nandeesha and Elsie Tech at the Global Symposium on Women in Fisheries (2001), (3) Napaporn Sriputinibondh (2004), (4) Hap Navy and Wolf Hartmann (2007), (5) Heng Ponley and Kaing Khim (2011), and also during the 13th NGF meeting (see all references below).

Developed out of workshops in Cambodia in the 1990s, the NGF formed as a federation of government-led national women in fisheries networks in the four lower Mekong River basin countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam). The Network is independent, owned by the government fisheries line agencies of MRC member countries and is supported by them and by the Mekong River Commission’s Fisheries Programme. The NGF is a member of the Mekong Technical Advisory Body on Fisheries Management. For the first time, the NGF invited the MRC Fisheries Programme’s national focal points to also attend the NGF meeting in order to further strengthen the links between mainstream fisheries matters and the gender issues. NGF also invited the Asian Fisheries Society, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and SEAFDEC to take part in the meeting. I attended on behalf of AFS and NACA, along with Dr Ambekar Eknath, DG of NACA and representatives of SEAFDEC.

We were welcomed by Dr Peter Degen, Chief Technical Adviser of the MRC Fisheries Programme and Dr Amonrat (Noi) Sermwatanakul, a Regional NGF coordinator and Thailand Department of Fisheries host . The meeting was followed by Dr Malasri Khumsri, Fisheries Management and Governance Specialist of MRC Fisheries Programme presented  an overview of gender mainstreaming in the MRC and updated us on how the NGF is promoting gender equality in the fisheries sector through the NGF as an informal knowledge network. Achievements included creating better information on gender roles through research, data collection and surveys, strengthening the roles of the national gender focal points and of women’s roles in the generally male-dominated fisheries departments and providing space for cross-scale gender dialogue down to community and local groups. Each of the four national NGF focal points then provided a status report, structured around national structures for promoting gender equality, sex- disaggregated data, activities in 2011-2012 and plans for 2012-2013 and self-assessment of progress.

NGF Field visit, 21 June 2012. Photo: Theerawat Samphawamana

Some of the points that stood out from the four national presentations:

  • Within countries, the gender and fisheries units and their activities are linked with the central units of the government responsible for delivery on national and international women/gender policies.
  • The national units are operating with only small resources and have made progress through the commitment of the people running the units and support from mainstream managers and programs. Clearly, much more progress could be made with more resources.
  • A high priority regional activity is to fully develop the methods for collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated data, and then conduct basic data gathering and reporting work.
  • Gender equity is a complex and controversial subject and gender mainstreaming is going to take a long time to achieve. Despite this, leaders in fisheries departments generally recognize its importance but do not really understand the concept well enough to know what can be done in practice.
  • The Network is enthusiastic to continue to work to secure more progress.

Established in 1997, the Cambodian network has been the longest running and Kaing Khim, the Deputy Director General of Fisheries Administration, reflected on the lessons learned in gender mainstreaming policies and strategies. Since 2008, the gender plans and strategies have been integrated with annual, mid-term (3-5 years) and long term (10 year) plans, as well as with CamCode, the national adaptation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Good progress has been made, Dr Khim said, through solid policy and strategies and attention from senior leaders, but it is wrong to assume that real change is going to happen suddenly. Due to the sensitivity and complexity of the issues, “unlimited time is needed to disseminate, coordinate, monitor and follow up regularly with agencies and projects/programs.”

Dr Ambekar Eknath, DG of NACA described NACA’s Council commitment to develop gender as a cross-cutting theme in the work programme. I reported in a little more depth on the NACA decision and on the Asian Fisheries Society work to promote gender in aquaculture and fisheries (see: I stressed that we should not expect that the current interest in gender in the fish sector would translate into long term substantive action as the interest had waxed and waned in the recent past. A timeline of gender activities going back to the 1975 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its impacts in sectoral bodies and in countries showed examples of the ups and downs of interest. To date, we still know too little about what to do to make the sector more gender equitable. The current challenge is to ensure that the renewed interest leads to more substantive action.

Meryl Williams (

(3) Sriputinibondh, N., K. Kaing, Nguyen Thi Bich, K. Deeburee, N. Liepvisay, W.D. Hartmann (2004) Gender Mainstreaming in the MRC Fisheries Programme, Paper presented in the Global Symposium on Gender in Fisheries at the 7th Asian Fisheries Forum, 30 November -4 December 2004, Penang, Malaysia (also referred to briefly on p.4 of ).

Women and men differ in roles, responses to rules in Ostional turtle protection

Collecting turtle eggs. Photo: Ostional National Wildlife Refuge

The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is well known for its turtle fisheries and allied turtle conservation efforts. Women and men are actively engaged in the fishery and protection activities, usually in different ways. This management analysis in Marine Policy  (open access article) (“What makes them follow the rules? Empirical evidence from turtle egg harvesters in Costa Rica” by Roger Madrigal-Ballestero, Achim Schluter and Maria Claudia Lopez) contains very useful gender analyses of how the fishery and protection system work. It “presents an empirical analysis of the factors that determine individual compliance with a locally devised set of rules for harvesting and selling marine turtle eggs, as well as for protecting the turtles and their hatchlings. Individuals who violate the rules receive a monetary penalty, which implies a reduction in the income from sale of eggs. …  Using written records of deductions due to sanctions between May 2008 and May 2010 and information from a survey of 108 local turtle egg harvesters, the paper presents the results of econometric analyses of factors that influence the amount of fines received by individuals. The results suggest that individual dependence on the income from sale of eggs, perceptions of rules and their legitimacy, and demographic factors such as age and gender are all important factors explaining rule breaking behavior….” In particular, women tend to comply better than men with the rules and take a longer view. Gendered divisions of labour are strong and women’s work is less well regarded in the community than that of the men.

Three new ICSF reports tackle Climate Change, MPAs and Small Scale Fisheries in India

Seaweed harvesters, Bharathinagar, Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Photo: Shilpi Sharma (courtesy of ICSF)

Climate Change and Fisheries: Perspectives from Small-scale Fishing Communities in India on Measures to Protect Life and Livelihood

by Venkatesh Salagrama,

Through consultations with key fisheries-based stakeholders in four States of India, this study attempts to assess perceptions of fishing communities about the impact of climate change on their lives and livelihoods. It also evaluates the traditional knowledge, institutions and practices of fishing communities that are relevant to climate-change preparedness. The study identifies adaptation and mitigation measures that may need to be adopted by fishing communities and the State in relation to climate change. Based on this overall analysis, the study proposes measures to protect the lives and livelihoods of small-scale fishing communities in the context of climate change policies and programmes at different levels.

Download report:

MPA Workshop Proceedings 2012: Fishery-dependent Livelihoods, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: The Case of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in India.

The lacunae in fishing-community engagement in the management and governance of marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs) were discussed in the 2009 Chennai Workshop organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). To continue the discussion, a second, two-day workshop to review existing legal and institutional mechanisms for implemention and monitoring of MCPAs, titled ‘Fishery-dependent Livelihoods, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity: The Case of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in India’, was held in New Delhi during 1-2 March 2012.

The objective was to understand the impact of MCPAs on fishing communities, from an environmental-justice and human-rights perspective, and make specific proposals for better conservation while securing the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. The workshop also served to underscore these issues in light of the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to be held at Hyderabad in October 2012.This publication contains the prospectus of the workshop and a report of the proceedings.

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Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries: Towards FAO Guidelines on Marine and Inland Small-scale Fisheries: Workshop and Symposium

 The workshop and symposium titled “Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries: Towards FAO Guidelines on Marine and Inland Small-scale Fisheries” was jointly organized by the National Fishworkers’Forum (NFF) and the Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (DISHA),in collaboration with the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF).

The workshop was the first in a series of consultations around the world organized to discuss the Voluntary Guidelines on Small-scale Fisheries (VGSSF) and propose measures, keeping in mind the interests and concerns of small-scale fisheries and fishing communities. The workshop was also a forum to make the role of small-scale fisheries and fishworkers more visible in the context of food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable use of fishery resources. The workshop had 62 participants from both the marine and inland sectors, representing 10 States of India. The participants included fishworkers, representatives of fishworker organizations, policymakers and representatives of multilateral organizations. The workshop was structured to facilitate active interaction and discussion among participants, taking into account  linguistic diversity and the contextual differences of the marine and inland sectors.

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Update to “Enhancing Global Aquaculture Opportunities for Women” post

Thanks to FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division’s Aquaculture service, we are able to provide a link to a copy of just Chapter 6.3 from the Proceedings of the Global Aquaculture Conference. Here is the link to download the chapter  -Sustaining aquaculture by developing human capacity and enhancing opportunities for women. The link has also been added to the link to the previous post.