Coastal Fisheries Programme
Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin #12
Number 12 - May 2003


Coordinator: Kim Des Rochers, English Editor, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia. Fax +687 263818

Production: Information Section, Marine Resources Division, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia. Fax +687 263818.

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

Editor's note

Welcome to the 12th issue of the Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin.

A common thread running through several articles in this issue is food security. Across the Pacific, and in many other parts of the world, women’s fishing and reef gleaning activities are vital in providing a source of protein and income for coastal communities. This is especially true during times when inclement weather makes it either difficult or dangerous for men to fish beyond the reef. But a combination of factors – including overharvesting and habitat destruction – threaten women’s ability to provide for their families. Some areas are experiencing localised declines in shellfish abundance, yet little scientific research has been done on many of these shellfish species and their sustainable yield. As Vunisea notes, in some areas of Fiji there is growing concern that the overcollection of coral for the marine aquarium trade could adversely impact long-standing subsistence fishing activities. The coral trade, however, is providing some communities with an opportunity to earn much needed cash, with very little training and investment needed. Fisheries officers, NGOs and others need to determine how the need for cash can be balanced with conservation of reef ecosystems so that they may continue to provide communities with subsistence livelihoods.

In Papua New Guinea, studies have shown that women contribute anywhere between 20 and 50 per cent of total fish catches annually. Women in Milne Bay Province, PNG, harvest marine invertebrates in particular. Recently, women’s fishing activities have expanded into small-scale commercial harvesting activities (e.g. beche-de-mer). Women therefore contribute both to the daily subsistence fish catch – and so to their families’ food security – and to their households’ income earnings. As Kinch notes, however, women in PNG are still under-represented in national fisheries agencies, fisheries training courses, and fisheries development and planning processes. Kinch suggests that more information is needed on subsistence fisheries production, consumption and environmental impacts.

In the Philippines, food security and decreased fish catches were named as the most urgent issues of personal concern in a survey of 700 small-scale fishermen. This baseline survey was the first attempt to measure the level of people’s understanding about coastal issues and to gauge their attitudes and practices with regards to fishing and coastal resource management.

In the Solomon Islands, Aswani and Weiant report that the harvest of marine invertebrates, particularly shellfish, is a woman’s activity, and a decline in shellfish resources could affect a woman’s position within her household and community, and result in declines in a household’s level of food security. Like Kinch, the authors report that women are frequently ignored by fisheries developments and conservation projects, and that until recently, very little attention has been paid to the need to manage resources that are vital to women. Aswani and Weiant’s article, however, presents the positive outcomes of a women’s community-based marine protected area project they have been involved with; a project that is effective both in sustaining invertebrate resources, and in generating community support.

As always, I hope you will find the articles in this issue of Women in Fisheries both thought-provoking and interesting. I welcome any feedback on them and encourage you to submit articles about women and community fishing issues from your country.

Kim Des Rochers

PS: Please note that articles from Micronesia and the USA retain American spelling.



Shellfish monitoring and women's participatory management in Roviana, Solomon Islands
Aswani S., Weiant P. (pdf: 119 KB)
Coral harvesting and its impact on local fisheries in Fiji
Vunisea A. (pdf: 27 KB)
The socioeconomics of reef fisheries in the South Pacific: A methodological approach
Kronen M. (pdf: 73 KB)
Women in fisheries in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea: Past initiatives, present situation and future possibilities
Kinch J., Bagita J. (pdf: 70 KB)

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Women in fisheries #12 (pdf: )


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