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Women make the (shell) money but rarely the decisions in fisheries

iifetlogonew1xThe outcomes (see report) of the Special Session and other presentations on gender at IIFET-2016 (International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade) showed that gender research is a promising new frontier in fisheries and aquaculture economics. From the household to the value chain, from Malaita in the Solomon Islands where women make the famous shell money sold now in the marketplace to filleting fish in Mexico and global fisheries performance indicator systems, fish sector work, power and decision making is gendered. Unlike factors such as input technology, fisheries management policy and trade subsidies, economists have paid little attention to modelling gender as a factor in fisheries and aquaculture. Sometimes this gap is blamed on missing sex-disaggregated data, and certainly many of the 14 presentations and discussions on gender at IIFET-2016 highlighted that sex-disaggregated data and indicators must be improved.

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L. to R.: Kate Barclay, Shyam Salim and Malasri Khumsri, panelists at the IIFET-2016 Special Session on “Gender Research as a New Frontier in Fisheries and Aquaculture: In the Footsteps of Rosemary Firth.”

But the dearth of gender economics studies in fisheries and aquaculture go well beyond this. The presenters on gender at IIFET-2016 used whatever information they could collect from formal statistical data and their own projects. 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 the overview report of the IIFET gender sessions and presentations here. The report contains links to most of the presentations/papers.

The gender theme was made possible through grants and support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA, the World Bank, IIFET, and all the presenters.

GAF6: Celebrating the Event and the Prize Winners

 We are delighted to publish the names of the GAF6 prize winners, as announced on 6 August at the Closing Plenary Session of the 11th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum in Bangkok, Thailand (see also our page with a brief overview of GAF6 and the announcement of the winners). Congratulations to all the prize winners!
The winners are (top row, left to right) Afrina Choudhury, Alexander Kaminski, Mary P. Barby Badayos-Jover; (bottom row left to right) Anindya Indra Putri, Khamnuan Kheuntha amd Benedict Mark Carmelita.

The winning presenters are (top row, left to right) Afrina Choudhury, Alexander Kaminski, Mary P. Barby Badayos-Jover; (bottom row left to right) Anindya Indra Putri, Khamnuan Kheuntha amd Benedict Mark Carmelita.

GAF6 M.C. Nandeesha Best Presentation Award

  • Afrina Choudhury: “Women’s empowerment in aquaculture: Case studies from Bangladesh”

GAF6 Highly Commended Presentations

  • Alexander Kaminski: “A gendered value chain analysis of post-harvest losses in Barotse Floodplain, Zambia”
  • Mary Barby P. Badayos-Jover: “Security in adversity: coastal women’s agency in the aftermath of Haiyan”

GAF6 Student Presentation Awards

  • Khamnuan Kheuntha: “The adaptability to shock in small-scale fishing community: case studies Bang Ya Preok sub-district, Samut Sakorn Province”
  • Anindya Indira Putri: “The survival story of wife in securing household’s economy in fishing community of Pemalang Regency – Indonesia”

11AFAF Student Poster Award, Gender

  • Benedict Mark Carmelita: “Attitude Towards Mariculture Among Men and Women in Mariculture Areas in the Philippines”

Learn more on the GAF6 outcomes here and here.

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IIFET-2016: In the footsteps of Rosemary Firth

 

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In 1963, Che’ Yoh and Rosemary Firth discuss qualities and uses of pandanus leaves, Malaysia. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/RosemaryFirth/

At the 2016 biennial conference of the International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), to be held in Aberdeen 12-15 July, a Special Session on gender will be held. Entitled  Gender Research as a New Frontier in Fisheries and Aquaculture Economics: In the Footsteps of Rosemary Firththe session aims to engage IIFET members in discussion on how economics research can be applied to address questions on gender in aquaculture and fisheries, with an early emphasis on the challenges of gathering relevant data.

The Special Session has attracted a strong set of presentations (please see the draft programme) and is also being supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (USA) and the World Bank.

Who was Rosemary Firth? Rosemary Firth (1912-2001) was a British social anthropologist who specialised in the field of domestic economy. She wrote the 1941 (1966) volume Housekeeping among Malay Peasants, tracking in detail the household economics of traditional fishing communities in east coast Malaysia, a companion volume to that by her husband, Raymond Firth, Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy. The 1966 volume of her book gave an account of changes she observed in the 23 years between study visits, and prescient views on the impacts of modernisation on traditional fishing communities.

 

Reflections on gleaning

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Brother and sister gleaning, Bilangbilangan, Bohol, Philippines, 2011. Photo: Danika Kleiber

By Margaret (Nonas) Kunkel, Masters Student, Asian Studies, Murdoch University, Australia. E-mail: mnonas@iinet.net.au

Also see our overview of gleaning and gender: Discover Gleaning

The Philippines is one of Southeast Asia’s many diverse cultural regions, and together with other Asian nations is in an area that has gone through tremendous changes, economic, social and environmental. Changes which have occurred through not only local policy but from colonial times, through to the present concept of globalism[1]  The poorest members of society live in agricultural areas and work as farmers or fishers or in urban cities work in the informal sector. One of the important areas of employment for the unskilled worker due to its many coastal, lake and inland waterways is the fishing industry.

From coastal fishing which has almost destroyed the sea gypsies of the country to small scale fisheries women are important members of this industry. They can work close to their homes, choose the hours they want and don’t require a lot of gear, whilst their children can go along with them so childcare is not necessary. Also where spiritual or gender roles prohibit women partaking in certain employment, such as fishing in boats, gleaning is an ideal way to supplement the family income. Women are not restricted by biological means but can be restricted by cultural norms. Women collect what is on the bottom of the waterways, the invertebrates whose habitats can be in reefs, mangroves and seagrass generally using their hands to collect such items as octopus, squid, prawns, crab, sea urchins and sea cucumbers. These practices are often done at night with torches or lanterns to see the catch.

Gleaning according to Klieber[2] who did research in the Bohol region, is rarely counted however when statistics are being looked at to determine how many people are involved in the fishing industry. Marine protected areas (MPAs), restricting the areas where women can glean, and the views of other stakeholders, government, big business and such also affect their efforts. Promoting gender equality is the most important part of alleviating poverty and creating equality. Programs, including women’s participation, using local knowledge and cultural adaption, community controlled MPAs which restrict ‘Malthusian’ overfishing of the local commons is one way at least to reclaim equality for many workers in the small scale fishing industry.

On Batasan Island, one of the six island Barangays of the municipality of Tubingen in the Bohol region of the Philippines, women and children glean shells, seaweed etc at low tide to support household income. This may be necessary as the women often spend their household income on illegal gambling because they are bored.[3] One negative effect of these practices is that some families force their children to leave school to help them with the gleaning, thus affecting their children’s education. School attendance in the barangays is extremely low which in turn leads to a cycle of poverty as the children eventually have to resort to the same methods of earning an income in the future.[4]

[1] Hofman, B, J Nye, S Rood & V Nehru, 2012. Economic and Political Challenges in the Philippines. http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/04/27/economic-and-political-challenges-in-philippines

[2] Kleiber, DL. 2014. Gender and Small-Scale Fisheries in the Central Philippines. University of British Colombia, PhD Thesis. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286084034_Gender_and_small-scale_fisheries_in_the_Central_Philippines

[3] Gonzales E & Savaris J 2005. International Seafood Trade: Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods Among Poor Aquatic Resource Users in Asia (EP/R03/014). Output 2 Marine Ornamentals trade in the Philippines and options for its poor stakeholders Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd, Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), and the STREAM Initiative.

[4] Macfadyen, G., R Banks, M Phillips, G Haylor, L Mazaudier & P Salz. 2003. Output 1 Background paper on the International Seafood Trade and Poverty. Prepared under the DFID-funded ECPREP project (EP/R03/014) “International Seafood Trade: Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods Among Poor Aquatic Resource Users in Asia”. Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd (UK), Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific and STREAM Initiative.

Coral Gleaning in Lido Village, Papua New Guinea

By Aung Si

University of Melbourne, Australia, e-mail: aung.si@unimelb.edu.au

The women of Lido Village, on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, have traditionally made an important contribution to their families’ protein intake by gleaning for marine invertebrates and small fish off exposed reef flats at low tide. Unlike their counterparts in many Pacific communities, however, Lido women improve their catch by constructing “gardens” on the reef flat, which are demarcated by metre-high rock walls, and enclose numerous rock pyramids of a similar height. The pyramids provide shelters for delicacies such as catfish and octopus, which are trapped by the rock walls when the water recedes. Crushed pieces of a poison vine are dropped into the water to stun the trapped organisms.

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Fig. 8.2 from the chapter. Aerial view of Lido Village (N. coast PNG) at high tide, showing location of the o lɛ̃ depression in the fringing reef and the approximation of the coral garden belonging to Witepu, the mother of author Lahe-Deklin. The surf zone at the edge of the fringing reef is clearly visible, as is the seaward extent of the reef flat. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

In recent decades, an influx of imported “city” foods has significantly changed the diet of the people of Lido. As a consequence, coral gleaning has declined in importance, and the garden walls and pyramids are no longer maintained. Contact with powerful neighbouring languages, such as Bahasa Indonesia, Tok Pisin and English, has also impacted adversely on the knowledge of the names of numerous reef fish and invertebrates that were once consumed as staples. Many children are no longer able to name these common, culturally important organisms in their mother tongue, called Dumo. In a chapter of the book Ethnobiology of Corals and Coral Reefs (Chapter 8 Coral Gardens of the Dumo People of Papua New Guinea: A Preliminary Account), my co-author Francesca Lahe-Deklin and I have tried to document some of this endangered vocabulary of the Dumo language, as well as describe the cultural beliefs and practices associated with coral gardens. Historically, women would have been the main repositories of this knowledge, passing it onto the children (both boys and girls) that accompanied them on gleaning trips. The open sea beyond the reef flat is the domain of adult men, who catch large fish such as cod and shark. Women, on the other hand, specialised in tending their coral gardens in family groups, with each person in charge of a part of the garden.

Link: Chapter 8: Coral Gardens of the Dumo People of Papua New Guines: A Preliminary Account.

E-mail:  aung.si@unimelb.edu.au

Gender roles in Pacific coastal fisheries

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Satellite image of Veivatuloa village, Viti Levu, Fiji, showing  its mudflats. Source: Google Earth, in SPC WIF 26, p. 18

The latest Secretariat of the Pacific Community Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin (#26), “highlights gender roles in coastal fisheries and development, and women’s fishing activities in urban and rural communities”, said its editor, Veikila Vuki.

The issue contains the following articles, and can be downloaded here:

  • Guest editorial: Gender in aquaculture and fisheries – Navigating change, by Nikita Gopal and colleagues.
  • Pacific invertebrate fisheries and gender – Key results from PROCFish, by Meryl J. Williams.
  • An ecological study of the sea hare, Dolabella auricularia, on the southeastern coast of Viti Levu, Fiji, by Sandeep Singh and Veikila Vuki.
  • Livelihoods, markets, and gender roles in Solomon Islands: Case studies from Western and Isabel Provinces, by Froukje Kruijssen and colleagues.

Women’s economic space in Sierra Leone’s small-scale fisheries

Women selling smoked fish in a market, Sierra Leone. Photo: Environmental Justice Foundation, http://ejfoundation.org/oceans/artisanal-fishing-industry-in-sierra-leone

Women selling smoked fish in a market, Sierra Leone. Photo: Environmental Justice Foundation, http://ejfoundation.org/oceans/artisanal-fishing-industry-in-sierra-leone

In a recent publication in the journal Feminist Economics, Fishing Na Everybody Business”: Women’s Work and Gender Relations in Sierra Leone’s Fisheries, Andy Thorpe and co-authors take three sets of data (from the National Frame Surveys of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, a survey of women fish processors by the Institute of Marine Biology and Oceanography, and a World Bank survey of fishing communities) and perform a rich analysis of typically low-profile women in Sierra Leone fisheries.

Presently, Sierra Leone is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries, and one quite dependent on fish resources. The authors conclude:

The livelihoods of women involved in the sector are complex, with fisheries-derived incomes not only being supplemented by alternative employment such as small-scale farming or running a small business, but also by household sharing (at least in part) of resources and incomes. A greater understanding of the (fisher) household economy is thus imperative to not only understand how women combine productive and reproductive tasks in Sierra Leone’s fishing communities, but also the extent to which women and men pool resources and income at the household level. Our study shows how although such women (in the main) lack education, access to resources, financial capital, and decision-making power, they nevertheless derive, in some instances quite substantive, incomes from fish processing.

 Link to journal article

Contact for lead author Prof. Andy Thorpe: andy.thorpe@port.ac.uk

Abstract: While small-scale fisheries in many developing countries is “everybody’s business,” a gendered labor division concentrates production in the hands of fishermen while women dominate postharvest processing and retailing. The production bias of fisheries management programs has not only largely overlooked the role of fisherwomen, but also marginalized “fish mammies” in terms of resources and training. This study draws on three in-country fisheries surveys, as well as interviews and focus groups, and employs a gender-aware sustainable livelihood framework to make visible the economic space occupied by women in Sierra Leone’s small-scale fisheries. The study highlights how women’s variegated access to capital and resources interacts with social norms and reproductive work and argues for more social and economic investment in women’s fish processing and reproductive work enabling them to reconcile both roles more effectively.