Coastal Fisheries Programme
Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin #11
Number 11 - November 2002


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 11th issue of the Women in Fisheries bulletin. Beginning with this issue, the bulletin will be taking a somewhat different approach to keeping its readers informed about women and community fishing matters. Rather than a geographical orientation, the articles here touch on three primary themes of continuing relevance to women and communities everywhere: community-based management and conservation of marine resources, the socioeconomic status of fisherwomen, and the documentation of fishing practices. To be effective, community-based management needs to take into account a wide range of factors, from fundamentals such as documenting which organisms are being harvested, and the types of gear and techniques that are used, to understanding the impacts of globalisation on both coastal communities and resources themselves. Although the themes themselves are not new, the fact they are recurrent topics of fieldwork, papers and discussions says something about their continued significance and relevance. There is interesting and important work being done in each of these areas, and the articles here include examples drawn from within the Pacific region and beyond.

The demand for fresh seafood remains high in many areas despite modernization and changing lifestyles. This demand is typically met, at least in part, through the harvest of nearshore marine organisms by women and children, and women continue to contribute significantly to the subsistence and artisinal fisheries sectors in much of the Pacific. Mecki Kronen suggests that children contribute significantly to the household portion of a women’s fish catch. In one village in Tonga she estimates that children regularly fish two days a week. Children’s contribution to their mother’s catch is rarely looked at by fisheries personnel or scientists, yet Kronen’s results suggest that this is an area that should be examined closer. Changing lifestyles and food preferences and consumption patterns also affect reef fisheries stocks, but how much? Kronen’s research is looking into this in Tonga and Fiji Islands, and in the future she will be examining food consumption patterns in other countries.

Given their important role in supplying household food needs, community members, researchers, fisheries scientists and resource managers have advocated for many years that women and communities should play a more active and significant role in managing marine resources, and have recommended that they be included in consultations and decisions regarding nearshore coastal resources. Fortunately, this is now happening in many places, as is discussed in the ‘News from the Community Fisheries Section’. But as Liz Matthews suggests in her article, it may be time to go further, and do more to educate women and communities about the dangers of overfishing, the need for sound conservation practices, and the importance of all species to the health of the marine ecosystem. Subsistence and artisinal fishing is often neither monitored or regulated by local fisheries departments, and unless the species has a commercial value (such as trochus), very little information is likely to be available. Matthews, in a second article, illustrates this point with regard to the collection of land crabs. Although an important and popular food item, land crabs are completely unmonitored in Palau; the same applies in many Pacific Island countries, and probably outside the region as well. This is also true for other organisms, especially marine invertebrate species.

In addition to a lack of information about many subsistence species, there’s still much we don’t know about how those species are being harvested. Although it has been done for decades, there is still a need to document traditional knowledge about fishing. As Mark Merlin’s article points out, in Micronesia alone there are numerous plants used to make fish traps, baskets, nets, poles and poisons for catching fish. For community-based management of marine resources to be effective, we need to better understand such traditional methods.

The article by Mohammad Ali Shah, under the socioeconomic theme, brings to light the problems of women from fishing communities who become marginalised when cheap labour and modern fishing gear nudges them out of their traditional role of net weavers and fish cleaners. On a more positive note, Denise Cardoso’s article discusses how access to paid labour greatly improved the socioeconomic status of women in some parts of Brazil.

I hope you'll find the articles in this issue of the Women in Fisheries bulletin interesting. I welcome any feedback on them and encourage you to submit articles about women and community fishing matters from your country.

Kim Des Rochers



Community-based fisheries management initiatives
Vunisea A. (pdf: 30 KB)
Fisheries training workshop in Fiji Islands: The I Qoliqoli Management Project
Vunisea A. (pdf: 29 KB)
Community-based marine resource management in Fiji: The challenges
Vunisea A. (pdf: 33 KB)
Learning about land crabs in Palau
Matthews E. (pdf: 67 KB)
Women's fishing in Tonga: Case studies from Ha'apai and Vava'u islands
Kronen M. (pdf: 60 KB)
Traditional uses of plants for fishing in Micronesia
Merlin M. (pdf: 54 KB)
Maka feke - Octopus fishing Tongan style
Kronen M. (pdf: 45 KB)
Tongkah - Unique gear for catching octopus
Balan P. (pdf: 47 KB)
The Lakemba art of vono
Kronen M. (pdf: 48 KB)
The life of a commercial fisherwoman
Lambeth L. (pdf: 54 KB)

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