Category Archives: Mekong

A welcome new FAO gender Handbook to support the Small Scale Fisheries Guidelines

A very welcome addition to the technical support for the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication – a handbook –  has just been released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Called “Towards gender-equitable small-scale fisheries governance and development“, the handbook written by Nilanjana Biswas, of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), is a treasure trove of essential background knowledge on women, gender and small-scale fisheries, combined with practical advice and case examples on incorporating gender equality principles in small scale fisheries work. The target audience is broad – from government officers to fishers and their communities, fish worker groups and researchers, as befits a product of the very participatory development process the Handbook team took.

The Handbook is organised in 3 parts:

  • Part 1: Understanding gender and the role of women in small-scale fisheries
  • Part 2: Responsible fisheries and sustainable development through a gender lens
  • Part 3: Ensuring an enabling environment for gender equality and supporting implementation

Among the rich and varied advice and explanatory boxes are such gems as a guide to tried and tested FAO methods for assessing post-harvest losses, and disaster response and rehabilitation issues to target to help women. Throughout, the Handbook has action points for policy-makers and for community service organisations, offering a few key tips on each subject.

A particular highlight is the set of case studies, each containing a description of the case, followed by a gender-sensitive “Let’s analyse this…” section that gets to the heart of the gender issues.

Here is the list of Case Studies:

  1. Women in fishing communities on Lake Victoria
  2. Tenure rights of traditional fishing communities in Raigad, India
  3. Recognition of indigenous community-owned land in Nicaragua
  4. War-affected women in the fishing villages of the Mannar Coast,
    Sri Lanka
  5. Self-regulation by women harvesters in the Gulf of Mannar, India
  6. Mandira Marine Extractive Region, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  7. Transboundary issues and fishers – learning from India and Sri Lanka
  8. Transboundary issues and fishers – learning from the European Union
  9. Diversifying livelihoods for small-scale fishing communities in Uganda
  10. Pacific Fishing Company on Levuka Island, Fiji
  11. Migrant Chinese women workers employed in oyster shucking in Japan
  12. Growing violence and abuse in small-scale fisheries in South Africa
  13. Reclaiming the Marol fish market in Mumbai, India
  14. Impact of harbour fishing on fish trade in Kerala, India
  15. Impact of competition along Lake Victoria in Kenya and on inland
    fisheries in Zambia
  16. Impact of industrialization on women in small-scale post-harvest
    fisheries in South Africa
  17. Issues of cross-border trade for traditional women fish vendors in
    Cambodia
  18. The risks of neglecting women in policy implementation
  19. Post-tsunami rehabilitation in Aceh, Indonesia
  20. Impact of mine pollution in Buyat Bay, Indonesia
  21. Matsyafed in Kerala, India – an apex cooperative for small-scale fisheries
  22. Impact of seasonal fishing ban on women fish traders in
    Puducherry, India
  23. Marshall Point, a coastal indigenous fishing/farming community in
    Nicaragua
  24. Women fishers fight corruption in the Sunderbans, India
  25. An example of value chain analysis (VCA) (in Malawi)
  26. Public hearing on issues of women in the fish trade in Kerala, India
  27. Enabling women’s participation in meetings in Kigombe, the United
    Republic of Tanzania
  28. Fisherwomen in Brazil organize for their rights
  29. Regional Fisheries Livelihood Programme for South and Southeast
    Asia (RFLP)
  30. Mainstreaming gender in the BOBLME project

Download the full Handbook at this LINK.

Economics, trade analysis of fish value chains lacking good gender information

The 2016 conference of the International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade addressed how to incorporate the gender dimension into fish value chain analysis, especially when very limited gender information is available. The report of the gender sessions are now online.

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Woman at Tambak Lorok, Central Jawa, Indonesia, brings two yellowfin tuna ashore. Photo: Zahrah Izzaturrahim.

The 14 presentations and discussions on gender at IIFET-2016 highlighted that sex-disaggregated data and indicators must be improved. Using whatever information they could collect, experts presented gender analyses of value chains in Africa (Malawi and Nigeria), Asia (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand), North America (Mexico) and the Pacific (Solomon Islands), and global efforts on fisheries performance indicators and data sets. The presenters and participants discussed how, in these value chains, women are critical to adding value to fish, although within the household and society, ultimately men still make most of the key household decisions, sometimes despite interventions that seek to empower women. The gender report concludes by making some suggestions to IIFET in its future work on gender in fisheries economics and trade.

Read more the full report on the gender papers at IIFET-2016 here.

“The Long Journey to Gender Equality” – GAF5 Volume published

Kerala fisher couple with cast net and scoop net. Photo: Sruthi P.

Kerala fisher couple with cast net and scoop net. Photo: Sruthi P.

We are delighted to announce the release of a Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Science journal, volume 29S, containing 12 papers, plus a guest editorial and other information based on GAF5 – the 5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (2014, Lucknow, India).

The Special Issue is titled “The Long Journey to Gender Equality” and contains many practical and theoretical insights. In the Guest Editorial, Dr Nikita Gopal and her co-editors conclude that the “regular GAF events of the Asian Fisheries Society … show that more and more researchers are interested in studying gender and fisheries/aquaculture, both from among the social scientists and fisheries biologists. Thus the GAF events create a unique forum for social and natural sciences to meet and discuss, which is often not the case in other disciplines.”

We hope you enjoy and find useful this wide range of papers covering such topics as the impacts of film-making on the empowerment of women divers in Timor Leste, to the roles of resident and non-resident women in Barotse Floodplain fisheries in Zambia and the intricacies of women’s fish marketing  relations in Bihar India and in Cambodia, plus much more.

Visit this page to gain an overview of the Special Issue and download the whole volume or individual papers. LINK

Congratulations to all the authors!

 

 

 

Social development in seafood production

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Panel at the Seafood Industry and Social Development Conference, September 2015, Maryland, USA. Arlene Nietes Satapornvanit is second from left.

Brief report on the Proceedings of the Seafood Industry and Social Development Conference
21-22 September 2015, Annapolis, Maryland, USA
By Arlene Nietes Satapornvanit

In early 2015, NACA (Network for Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific) was invited by Oxfam/SFP/UNDP to participate in the Seafood Industry and Social Development Conference to present the work we are doing on gender in aquaculture, and the results of the USAID/MARKET Gender project. The conference was aimed to promote and encourage further work towards social development in seafood production. The Conference was held on 21-22 September 2015 at The Loews Hotel, Annapolis, Maryland, USA. It was attended by various actors along the seafood value chain, mainly from the US and Europe.

The conference was convened by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), Oxfam and the UNDP, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation (RF). The representative of the RF emphasized during the opening remarks, that the industry has to ensure the social and economic well-being of those who depend on the industry for their lives. There is an intersection between human livelihoods and natural ecosystems to meet food security and economic growth. The need for sustainable approaches to meet the demand for fish in the future as emphasized, considering that only 150 M tons could be produced but 230-250 M tons are needed to meet the demand for fish. The challenge is how to meet this difference. Small-scale fisheries was mentioned several times, in terms of livelihoods, diversified livelihoods and social safety nets. Efforts should focus on them, and it was suggested to promote financial innovations, with efforts having meaningful economic impacts and strengthened safety net. The Rockefeller Foundation recognizes the human development challenge, and they are willing to work with everyone to meet these challenges and achieve solutions.

Keynote speakers emphasized the role of the seafood industry in advancing social development. Gender equality and women empowerment were mentioned as key aspects to achieve social development. Dr Christophe Bene (CIAT/CGIAR) suggested that we should focus on the contribution of fish to food security and nutrition. The importance of women needs to be considered, as they are half of the labor force, especially in processing, factories, fish trading, and informal sectors. However, their contribution and involvement are oftentimes unrecorded, undervalued, and invisible in national statistics. There is gender bias both in and outside the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. It is time to create a positive narrative food security and nutrition. One of his recommendations was to consider women as a key entry point, and collecting gender disaggregated data is necessary to provide policy makers relevant information on the importance of women in the seafood industry. In addition to this, he also recommended the promotion and defense of labor rights, looking beyond the fish farmers. The fisheries and aquaculture sector needs to change our narrative, moving away from ‘crisis’ narrative to emphasizing the positive contribution of fish to nutrition. This will result in a new image of fish based on food security and nutrition and impact on health.

Other keynote speakers also made suggestion on how the industry can contribute to social development. One suggestion was to find ways to ensure that benefits are widely shared across the industry, especially among small scale producers and suppliers, women and marginalized groups. The UN Guiding Principles were also cited, wherein human rights in seafood industry concerns include forced labor, and impacts on women and children, consumer health, transportation, etc. In addition, a rights based approached is necessary to achieve a socially responsible seafood industry to end poverty and injustice. For Oxfam, their vision for change is to have synergies with other stakeholders, and to develop a more sustainable and socially responsible seafood sector. Producers need to have a role and a voice. Social concerns can be matched with environmental and economic concerns.

Gender focus, and women as half of the workforce was mentioned in some of the presentations, especially those from international organizations such as World Bank, and also by the various NGOs working among the small scale fisheries in developing countries. The Voluntary Guidelines for Small-Scale Fisheries was also presented, and the section of Gender Equality was pointed out, considered a first in a fisheries instrument.

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Arlene Nietes Satapornvanit presenting on NACA’s gender work at the Seafood Industry and Social Development Conference.

NACA’s presentation was on its gender programme, the newly launched Women, Youth and Aquaculture Development, and the results and recommendations from the recently concluded project on Thematic Studies on Gender in Aquaculture in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. This was a project implemented by NACA under the USAID supported Maximizing Agricultural Revenue through Knowledge, Enterprise Development and Trade (MARKET) project. Participants were encouraged to work in partnership with NACA to reach the various groups of small scale producers and stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific Region.

The remaining other sessions consisted of speakers from various organizations and companies involved in seafood production, trade, marketing, certification, and social development, presenting their activities and how they are involved or plan to involve in promoting social development. There is a high intention to be involved in social development and an interest in promoting gender equality throughout the value chain. However it is clear that much still needs to be done in equipping those interested with tools and mechanisms for them to apply a more gender sensitive and responsive approach in their activities.

Practical examples given by FAO included providing direct support of women to women’s organizations for example in the processing sector and in developing their capacities and skills. The Global Environmental Facility promotes equality across genders, promotes livelihoods and opportunities for women, and strengthening business skills to empower women’s organizations. World Bank tries to disaggregate gender data, looking for opportunities along the value chains to improve efficiency and make more money for those in the value chains, especially deficiencies in post-harvest where mainly the workers are women.

In conclusion, on the gender aspect part, it was recommended to not use the term “fisherman” as there are also women fishers, so it was suggested to use fisher folks instead. Governance is recognized as needed to have an enabling environment and the private sector is also a key actor in advancing social development in the seafood industry. The gender dimension was not really mentioned much in this conference so it was suggested to put women at the center of social development. Working in partnerships with others is also essential, including investing in the empowerment of small scale fisheries and labor industry, and promoting gender inclusiveness as it benefits business.

The majority of the presentations for the 2 day conference can be found here:

Building climate resilience in Laos by bringing in women

Lao women researchers. Photo: FishBio (Fisheries research, monitoring and conservation) http://fishbio.com/field-notes/population-dynamics/lao-women-in-fish-research

In other projects in Laos, women in Donexay village have become involved as researchers in the Nam Kading River of central Lao PDR. Photo and story: FISHBIO [Fisheries Research, Monitoring and Conservation] FISHBIO

Charlotte Moser worked among Lao fishers in the Sekong River basin that begins in Vietnam, traverses Lao PDR and flows into the Mekong in Cambodia. The project on which she worked, in Samakhixay and Saysettha districts of Attapeu Province in southern Laos, involved Lao PDR, World Bank and IUCN support. She reports [“Listening to Women Fishers on the Sekong River: Fostering Resilience in Village Fishery Co-Management“] that the advent of fisheries comanagement and new national laws and institutions such as the Lao Women’s Union and a flurry of activity, especially after the 1995 UN Beijing  Conference on Women, tended to stay at the national level.

What was happening at the local level along the Sekong, where men fished in the main river and its tributaries and women were seasonal fishers in the rice fields? Following the new national 2009 Guideline for Fisheries Comanagement, several comanagement fishery committees were established to oversee fisheries conservation zones. Elite men tended to be appointed to the committees (by village chiefs), thus cementing the status quo, whereas women, if in the committees, were elected and tended to be challenging the status quo. The national fishery guidelines did not mandate women’s participation.  Generally, the fisheries committees also avoid other difficult issues such as ethnicity, the deteriorating quality of the river water and its fishery resources, and the maintenance of fish conservation zones. Of 6 committees established in 2009 in the study area, the only committee to survive until 2013 was the one that had a woman member (who kept the committee records) and it was also the only one to maintain a conservation zone.

Charlotte Moser laments that, despite the calls to include women, and the good advice available as to how to do this, action on the ground often disappoints, as in this case in Laos. She reiterates the generally recommended steps needed, but does not underestimate their difficulty to implement.

Among these steps are including language in the national Fisheries Law that requires participation by women in village fishery management committees, creating incentives to allow women to develop new skills, ensuring more places in governance structures for women and providing opportunities for adaptive learning tailored to the experiences and interests of women in fishing villages.

Abstract: The accelerated economic development of landlocked Laos, combined with extreme climate variables, points to dramatic transformations in subsistence fisheries on its rivers. In the country’s first Fisheries Law, adopted in 2009, co-management of village fisheries is required as a way to promote sustainable development at a local level. The co-management model, however, does not stipulate participation by women fishers, important stakeholders who make up almost one-half of all Lao fishers and whose work contributes directly to family nutrition and well-being. Based on fieldwork conducted in fishing villages on the Sekong River in southern Laos in 2013, this paper takes an ecosystems approach to discuss how the country can build resilience and social cohesion into fisheries by incorporating women and their knowledge into village fishery management. In the process, the health of river ecosystems and food security will improve, while women fishers will acquire new skills to help them avoid ‘poverty traps.’

Download the paper here

The Long Journey to Equality

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

Women weighing riverine fish catch, India. Photo: Lalit Tyagi.

We see some greater commitment to gender equality in policies and by institutions, but the position of women in mainstream and traditional value chains is still eroding despite new technologies accessible to women and new development approaches.

This was the conclusion of the full report of GAF5, the 5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries. Based on presentations and discussions, the report explores five themes: (1) greater policy and institutional commitment to gender equality; (2) the eroding position of women in aquaculture and fisheries; (3) new technologies for women and new gender equality approaches; (4) diagnosing diversity and enabling action; and (5) GAF101, networks and GAF information.

Read the full report.