Coastal Fisheries Programme
Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin #18
Number 18 - March 2008


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 Women in Fisheries Bulletin, which highlights gender issues in development, social issues in fishing communities, women’s fishing activities and subsistence fisheries.

In the first article, “Development of marine resources, fisheries policies and women’s rights in the Pacific Islands”, Vina Ram-Bidesi reflects on the importance of marine resources in the Pacific Islands. She also analyses the current issues in fisheries policies and how they affect women in the region. She points out that the basic problems of limited access to resources and subordination continue to persist for women. In addition, new and complex problems are now facing women because of globalization of the fishing industry. These require a greater evaluation of fisheries policies at a higher level and the involvement of women in decision-making at national, regional and international levels to help reduce the negative impacts of the global fish trade.

There are two research reports on gender issues in the Pacific Islands. In the paper on “Combining traditional and new fishing techniques”, Mecki Kronen describes fishing techniques used by fishers from Niue, Papua New Guinea, and Wallis and Futuna. Her paper discusses the commonalities and differences of fisherwomen and fishermen, the techniques and the boat transport that they use, habitats that they prefer to target, and their productivity. In the second report, Ferral Lasi and Mecki Kronen discuss the ungakoa fishery in Niue and the Cook Islands. Ungakoa are vermetid worms and are regarded as a rare fishery. In the case of fishing communities surveyed in the Cook Islands (Aitutaki, Mangaia and Rarorotanga) and in Niue, the ungakoa emerged as one of the most sought-after local seafood specialties. The authors note that the ungakoa fishery was developed in areas where people have access to other highly exploited invertebrate species, such as giant clams, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and crustaceans.

There are two case studies on women’s fishing activities. In the Yap case study, Mecki Kronen and Andy Tafileichig describe traditional marine resource management and the role of fishermen and fisherwomen. There is a clear distinction in gender roles. Men are mostly engaged in fishing for finfish, while women are engaged in reef and soft benthos collection. Fishermen also have diverse fishing activities, including invertebrate collection, free diving for lobsters and giant clams. Men may also collect other invertebrate species while on their way to fishing. This is strongly influenced by Yapese traditions and culture. Yapese communities still enjoy a traditional lifestyle where each household has about two members regularly fishing. Seafood consumed is from their catch or given as gifts from a family or community member.

In Fiji, Lilian Sauni, Veikila Vuki, Susan Paul and Marica Rokosawa discuss women’s role in the subsistence fishery in Nadoria. Women fish for both subsistence purposes and for income. Seafood is the main protein component of households’ diets, and subsistence fishing plays a vital role in supporting village households. The sale of marine products contributes to household income in villages. Revenue from the sale of fish and marine products are spent on school fees and buying household necessities. Women’s ability to earn income and contribute financially also enables them to participate more actively in household decision-making.

In a study of subsistence fisheries and fish consumption patterns in Lau Lagoon, Solomon Islands, Toata Molea and Veikila Vuki reveal that fish constitutes the major component of the diet of the lagoon’s inhabitants. The study shows that fish consumed at the household level constituted a small proportion of the day’s catch because the larger fish are sold at market outlets. Fish were used in exchange for food crops and other agricultural produce from the Malaita mainland. Fishing operations for the lagoon people have shifted from traditional communal setting into a family or individual business. Several reasons account for this. Fishing gear that was not accessible in the past, is now available through government fisheries centres in rural areas or through commercial shops in Honiara. There is a preference for modern fishing gear because it is easier to handle. A fisherman or woman can fish alone without the help of others in the village. Traditional fishing gear often requires the participation of the whole community. In addition, modern fishing gear is now affordable and can be purchased using modern currency instead of custom money.

In “Poverty in paradise?”, Susan and Leon Zann describe the rapid changes in traditional Fijian villages due to modernization. They discuss major indicators of poverty in three Fijian coastal fishing villages. Two of the three villages surveyed fall within the category of “extreme poverty”, while the other village was considered to be in the “moderate poverty” category. Although there was no evidence of starvation, diets were considered poor in all three villages because of excessive amounts of starch.

In her paper “The ‘culture of silence’ and fisheries management”, Aliti Vunisea briefly discusses management initiatives in Pacific Island countries. She describes some of the challenges of promoting fisheries management while also allowing people to meet their economic and social livelihood demands.

A brief summary of community engagement in Ailuk in the Marshall Islands is presented by Sylvia Pinca and Frankie Harriss. The authors attribute the success of the project to several factors, including strong community leadership, partnerships with government agencies and researchers, socioeconomic surveys, science-based reef surveys, partnerships with funding agencies and educational institutions, and nongovernmental agencies.

This issue of the Women in Fisheries bulletin discusses issues of poverty in fishing villages, women’s fishing practices, subsistence fishing, and issues of management and development. I welcome any feedback on the articles in this issue and encourage you to submit articles about gender and community fishing issues from your country and region.

Veikila Vuki



Development of marine resources, fisheries policies and women's rights in the Pacific Islands
Ram-Bidesi V. (pdf: 98 KB)
Combining traditional and new fishing techniques: Fisherwomen in Niue, Papua New Guinea and Wallis and Futuna
Kronen M. (pdf: 562 KB)
"Ungakoa" - Fishing for a rare delicacy in the South Pacific
Lasi F., Kronen M. (pdf: 308 KB)
Traditional rights and management of Yap's coastal fisheries and the role of fisherwomen
Kronen M., Tafileichig A. (pdf: 129 KB)
Women's subsistence fishing supports rural households in Fiji: A case study of Nadoria, Viti Levu, Fiji
Fay-Sauni L., Vuki V., Paul S., Rokosawa M. (pdf: 147 KB)
Subsistence fishing and fish consumption patterns of the saltwater people of Lau Lagoon, Malaita, Solomon Islands: A case study of Funaafou and Niuleni Islanders
Molea T., Vuki V. (pdf: 183 KB)
Poverty in paradise? Issues in poverty and development in Fijian fishing villages
Zann S. (pdf: 297 KB)
The "culture of silence" and fisheries management
Vunisea A. (pdf: 48 KB)
Successful community engagement in resource management efforts on Ailuk Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands
Pinca S., Harriss F. (pdf: 474 KB)

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Women in fisheries #18 (pdf: )


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