Securing women’s fishing rights: a look at 5 South American coastal communities

Map of 5 sites

Country sites for the rights based management study. Source: Williams et al 2017 NAAFE presentation.

Rights1,2 and rights-based management (RBM) 3 have long been fundamental concepts examined in theory and practice in the search for sustainable and socially just fisheries management. However, few studies have engaged this discourse on the practical issue of women’s rights in fisheries. One exception is a study presented at the North American Association for Fisheries (NAFFE) conference in March 2017, by Jordan Williams and colleagues of the Environmental Defense Fund. Using the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines as their basis for action, they posed the research question “How can rights-based management secure the livelihoods and rights of women, and help to support gender equity in coastal fishing communities?” In their presentation (Abstract below),  they first diagnosed the current situation of women’s engagement in fisheries (commercial, subsistence and post-harvest activities), women’s influence in decision-making., and their current fishing rights.  The work was done at 5 sites in 4 countries (Belize, Chile, Cuba and Mexico). Based on the diagnosis of the present situation, the study will be examining how better data and a sharp gender lens on the systems of rights based management and decision-making can help secure women’s rights and tenure in the fisheries. The study is still a work in progress.

Securing women’s rights and livelihoods” Authors: Jordan Williams; Alexis Rife; Sarah Smith, PhD, NAAFE Forum 2017: Designing rights-based management systems to achieve social objectives in fisheries.

Abstract: The UN Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-scale Fisheries, along with the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests, recognize the role of secure tenure in ensuring the livelihoods, well-being, and basic human rights of small-scale fishing (SSF) communities. Rights-based management (RBM), which works to secure tenure rights, can therefore serve as a useful tool in upholding the rights of all SSF participants. Globally, women in SSF communities have increasingly been recognized for their contributions, not just as wives of fishermen, but as seafood processors, traders, retailers, and in some cases, fishers themselves. However, traditional societal rules and expectations have, in many cases, come to marginalize women, leaving them out of decision-making and limiting their access to resources. Recognizing and incorporating gender-specific roles and access needs can be built into the design process of RBM systems in order to secure women’s tenure rights and meet social goals around food security, livelihoods, and protection of economic security and social welfare. Designing gender-responsive management strategies requires localized knowledge about the contributions and concerns of women throughout the value chain; this project identifies the role that women play in several SSF communities where the EDF is working to establish sustainable fisheries management through secure tenure. Utilizing this robust information, we can develop gender-responsive RBM strategies that not only support the economic and biological viability of fisheries, but aim to meet common social goals within these communities and ensure equitable access to resources and representation, regardless of gender.

  1. Gordon HS. The economic theory of a common property resource: the fishery.
    Journal of Political Economy 1954;62:124–42.
  2. Scott A. The fishery: the objectives of sole ownership. Journal of Political
    Economy 1955;63:116–54.
  3. Allison, E.H., Ratner, B.D., Åsgård, B., Willmann, R., Pomeroy, R. and Kurien, J., 2012. Rights‐based fisheries governance: from fishing rights to human rights. Fish and Fisheries, 13(1), pp.14-29.

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.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 and fisheries

The May 2017 issue of Yemaya, the gender in fisheries newsletter of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, is now out. This issue is full of stimulating and diverse articles from around the world – Mexico, India, Fiji and more, many with a focus on the implications of Sustainable Development Goal #5 on gender equality and its implications for fisheries. Download the whole issue or individual articles (see list below) at this link.

Yemaya Maya SDG5

Yemaya Mama: The picture isn’t complete without gender equality! p. 11 Yemaya #54, May 2017.

Contents of Yemaya #54, May 2017

  1. Gender equal fisheries by Meryl Williams
  2. Milestones – The Entebbe Declaration by  Venugopalan N
  3. Profile – An independent life! For Metty, a fisherwoman from Kerala, India, fishing has been a mainstay for over four decades by Nikita Gopal
  4. Gender equality in and through fisheries by Kyoko Kusakabe
  5. Changing tides by Nikita Gopal
  6. Managing Mercado del Mar by  Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez
  7. What’s new Webby? Community conservation network by Anthony Charles
  8. Women in Fisheries Network (Fiji) by  Loata Leweniqila
  9. Q&A Interview with Ujjwala Jaykishan Patil by Priyanka Mangela
  10. Yemaya Mama – The picture isn’t complete without gender equality!
  11. Yemaya Recommends – ICSF Document: Workshop on Enhancing Capacities of Women Fishworkers in India. Reviewed by Ahana Lakshmi

Videos capture women in action in the seafood sector

The results of the Women in Seafood video competition are now out and all the videos can be viewed through this WSI website link.

map image

Click this link to go to the interactive map and open the videos. The videos are interesting, often inspiring, and all are short and to the point, ranging from 2 to 5 minutes.

Congratulations to the competition winner Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez for her video, “The Women of Petatán,” a very thoughtful set of interviews with women fish filleters as they worked on processing piles of fish to prepare them for the market. The video was made in Petatán , Michoacán, Mexico.

Other videos were:

Contributions by women in the fisheries of five major fishing countries

Women shrimp traders in Mazatlan, Mexico. Photo: Maria Cruz-Torres

A recent paper published in Coastal Management (Contributions by Women to Fisheries Economies: Insights from Five Maritime Countries) investigates the contribution by women to fisheries economies in Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

Through an exhaustive review of data and literature on women and fisheries, the authors of this paper, Sarah Harper, Charlotte Grubb, Margot Stiles, and Rashid Sumaila, take stock of what is known about women in the fisheries sector of these five countries. From the available information, women appear to make substantial contributions to the fisheries sector and related economy; however, these contributions are not always visible in an economic accounting or policy sense. For example, indirect participation in all five countries was mainly measured by statistics for processing and retail activities, as little information was available for the many other activities of women that support fishing households, e.g., book keeping, gear repairs, and provisioning for fishing trips.

The paper highlights major gaps in the availability of sex-disaggregated data on participation in fishing activities through the fish value chain and suggests the need for improved national-level data collection for the development of gender-sensitive fisheries policies and programs.

Download the paper : link (Institutional access may be required; lead author’s e-mail: sjmharper@gmail.com )

See other media related to article:

Expert panel recommends promoting wider opportunities for women in giant freshwater prawn

Drs Malasri Khumsri, Amonrat Sermwatankul and Jarvey Demaine, the expert panel on gender and giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium) farming  at the Giant Freshwater Prawn 2017 Conference, concluded that, while women’s involvement in low-cost marginal occupations was well-known, the range of opportunities for women in the value chain was much wider and these had to be identified and promoted. The panel session was the first formal activity of the recently launched Asian Fisheries Society Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section and was supported by the Thailand Department of Fisheries, Asian Institute of Technology and the Giant Freshwater Prawn 2017 Conference.

The panel discussion provided a platform for development of a community of people committed to equitable and effective cooperation among researchers and academics, technicians, fisheries officers and non-governmental organizations in research and practice on gender in aquaculture and fisheries and explore the ways to promote gender equitable and sustainable livelihood opportunities in GFP value chains.

The panel examined the gender arrangements in Bangladesh and Thailand (see the report), and, in the case of Thailand, suggested the way forward.

Read the report of the panel session here.

Mapping the action on International Women’s Day ’17

Map showing the locations (mainly at country resolution level) for events and news about women in aquaculture, fisheries and seafood in honor of International Women’s Day 2017. If you have more events from 8 March 2017 to put on this map, please let us know at: e-mail genderaquafish@gmail.com.

IWD-17-image-1

Click this LINK to view the interactive version of of the above map, created with eSpatial mapping software.

Before, during and after 8 March 2017 (International Women’s Day), news, tweets and posts flooded in relating to the Day. Our group shared these events via two roundup messages. We have now put the events onto the map above, using eSpatial mapping software, and generous assistance from Ciara at eSpatial (thank you Ciara!).

To read the details of any event, click on the marker for it. We have placed the event marker on the country (sometimes city or state) where the event happened, although many have global or regional significance.

This seemed to be the most active IWD ever from a fisheries, aquaculture and seafood industry perspective. Let’s hope it is a sign of an active and fruitful year ahead for gender equality in the sector!