Coastal Fisheries Programme
Number 19 - November 2009


Coordinator: Veikila Vuki, Marine Laboratory, University of Guam, UOG Station, PO Box 5214, Mangilao, Guam 96913.

Production: Information Section, Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia.

Prepared with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand.

Editor's note

Welcome to this issue of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin, which highlights gender roles in coastal fisheries, women’s fishing activities in urban and rural communities and gender issues in development.

In this issue, Mecki Kronen and Aliti Vunisea report on the results of a study of gender roles in coastal fisheries across 17 Pacific Island countries and territories. The study examined the major differences in exploitation of finfisheries by major cultural groups, including variations according to gender groups and variations in habitats fished. The findings showed that the high rates of finfisheries exploitation in Micronesian and Polynesian communities were essentially due to the work of fishermen rather than fisherwomen. In contrast, Melanesian fisherwomen play a significant role in the exploitations of reef resources in their communities. It is recommended that future fisheries management strategies consider variations in culture regarding gender and habitats fished.

There are two reports on unique fisheries. The first one, by Mecki Kronen and Siola Malimali, reports on octopus fishing by the women of Lofanga, Tonga. Fisherwomen in Lofanga contribute significantly to the high invertebrate consumption (17 kg per capita per year) and family income because of the exploitations of octopus and giant clams. The long shelf life of sun-dried octopus has provided Lofanga fisherwomen with a reliable fishery that supplies food continuously for the family and also generates household income. A short report on the sea hare fishery in Fiji Islands is provided by Sandeep Singh and Veikila Vuki. The article briefly describes the behaviour, habitats, exploitation and sale of sea hare (Dolabella auricularia) in Fiji Islands.

A report on changes in subsistence fishing activities and seafood consumption was written by Dorothy Munro Solomona, Teina Tuatai, Veikila Vuki and Metusela Koroa. The study, undertaken from 1989 to 2001, showed changes in the fishing methods used, fishing grounds used and composition of fish catches. A decrease in seafood consumption was reported. There are two articles on women’s issues and fisheries policies in this issue. In the article ‘Meeting the challenge’, Meryl Williams addresses the challenges involved in making fisheries policies more gender sensitive. She emphasises that through action and research, progress on the issues surrounding women in fisheries is slowly gaining momentum.

In ‘Recognising women in fisheries: policy and considerations for developing countries’, Vina Ram Bidesi discussed the need to build fisheries policies on gender through greater cross-sectoral policy dialogues, advocacy and information exchange. She recommends a gender analysis of policies in different fisheries sectors as an important step in the right direction to inform decision-makers.

In a short article, Meryl Williams reports on the 2nd Global Symposium on Gender and Fisheries during the 8th Asian Fisheries Forum. The symposium continued with its efforts to seek ‘solutions through research’ in fisheries and aquaculture. Some of the areas covered in the symposium included inland and coastal resource management, aquaculture, income, trade, nutrition, health, globalisation and gender mainstreaming in fisheries and aquaculture projects.

This issue of the bulletin discusses issues related to women’s fishing and women’s contributions to sustaining households. I welcome any feedback on the articles in this issue and encourage you to submit articles about women and community fishing issues from your country or region.

Veikila Vuki



Fishing impact and food security - Gender differences in finfisheries across Pacific Island countries and cultural groups
Kronen M., Vunisea A. (pdf: 221 KB)
The octopus fishery on Lofanga, Kingdom of Tonga
Kronen M., Malimali S. (pdf: 275 KB)
The sea hare fishery in Fiji Islands
Singh S., Vuki V. (pdf: 87 KB)
Decadal changes in subsistence fishing and seafood consumption patterns on Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Munro Solomona D., Tuatai T., Vuki V., Koroa M. (pdf: 249 KB)

Download the complete publication:

Women in fisheries #19 (pdf: )


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