Coastal Fisheries Programme
Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin #29 - Complete editorial

The inclusion of gender in fisheries and aquaculture is considered central to sustainable development, and the Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin provides a sharing and learning platform for practitioners and scientists working in this space in the Pacific, and other parts of the world. This edition has 14 unique articles from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the broader Pacific and the Philippines.

Danika Kleiber and co-authors provide an overview of the ‘Pathways Project’ being implemented in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The project focuses on strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries in management support of the ‘New Song’. Key concepts for considering and including gender in research and development are outlined in a visually aesthetic way that is useful for other projects that want to increase research quality, empower women and facilitate equitable outcomes in coastal fisheries.

Kate Barclay and co-authors provide an overview of ‘Lagoon livelihoods: Gender and shell money in Langalanga, Solomon Islands’, published recently in the journal Maritime Studies. The researchers found that gender roles in the shell money value chain have shifted, with women more actively involved in the trade in recent years. Changes in gender roles have created friction with gender and cultural norms; specifically, in terms of the kinds of activities that are considered suitable for women, who in families should control cash incomes. Sheridan Rabbitt and co-authors present community attitudes toward the export of fishery products from rural villages in Solomon Islands to the capital, Honiara, using ‘eskies’ for storage and transport. While the majority of community members interviewed were supportive of the ‘esky trade’, they wanted to see further restrictions implemented such as harvest restrictions, closure of some areas during the harvesting of seafood for the esky trade, and gear restrictions.

Two articles from Fiji and the Philippines reinforce the role that women play in gleaning and fishing, and their contribution to household food security. Women on three islands in the Lau Group in Fiji fished primarily for food, largely using handlines in soft bottom, mangrove and coral reef habitats, with most of the catch consumed by their households. However, these fisherwomen were either not represented, under-represented, passive or uninvolved in decision-making relating to marine resource use and management. De Guzman found that seafood from reef gleaning provided an additional source of energy and high-quality protein for the household, although contributing little family income. Women who make up the majority of the gleaning population are mainly accredited for ensuring that the family does not go hungry despite earning marginal incomes from artisanal fisheries in the Philippines.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research-funded pearl farming projects in Fiji are providing training in basic business skills, enterprise development and marketing to communities engaged in the industry, to support them as they transition from spat collection to mabé pearl production. This includes setting up a second pearl handicraft training centre on Taveuni to give women access to a well-equipped workshop to support shell processing and handicraft production.

Four academic studies have just begun or are well on their way. Sarah Lawless, a PhD student at James Cook University, is investigating the extent to which global and regional written gender commitments translate into action at various scales of governance in Melanesia. Sheridan Rabbitt, a PhD student at University of Queensland, is looking at food security concerns in small-scale fisheries in the Solomon Islands, with a strong focus on how women are involved in, and contribute to, fisheries management and conservation decision-making processes within their villages. I have just commenced a Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship that aims to develop practical, context-specific guidelines, tools and policy recommendations to assist Melanesian countries to mainstream gender and human rights-based approaches into coastal fisheries management and development. Part of this work involves assessing the degree to which traditional and current gender and human rights-based approaches can be fully optimised to enhance coastal fisheries management and development in Melanesia to improve its effectiveness. Scientists at the Wildlife Conservation Society have partnered with UN Women, Fiji’s Ministry for Local Government, and three municipal councils to undertake a study to better understand the barriers, constraints and needs of women seafood market vendors. This work supports the UN Women’s ‘Market for Change’ programme and helps improve gender equality and the social inclusion of women seafood vendors in municipal markets in Fiji.

If you are looking for inspiration for 2019, you will enjoy getting to know Tarusila Veibi, the first female representative for the Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area network, and Alice Kaloran, the President of the Tongoa-Shepherd Islands Women’s Association in Vanuatu. Tarusila is trying to increase the engagement of and support to rural women, and to help them become more vocal and share their concerns about natural resource management issues, while Alice is working to empower women and men alike to develop their entrepreneurial skills in business development, and in sustaining fish supplies to local domestic markets in Port Vila. Both women work tirelessly at the grassroots levels in their respective countries.

I welcome feedback on the Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin or any of the articles. Get in touch if you have any ideas to engage or broaden the readership. Are there specific types of articles you would like to see less of, or more of? Would you like to see special issues dedicated to just one topic? Would you like to co-lead an issue with me? I encourage you to dig into your inner muse, share your knowledge and experiences on gender in fisheries and aquaculture from your country or region for the next issue of this bulletin.

Just a reminder that we welcome a range of articles for Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin including:

  • Full articles such as science articles, reviews or provocative think pieces;
  • Short articles summarising a relevant workshop, conference, or training, that has relevance for other managers, practitioners or scientists;
  • New study or project – a short 1‒2-page overview of any new research, studies or project;
  • New publications – a short 1‒2-page announcement of a new publication about to be, or has just been released;
  • Profile a champion for gender in fisheries or aquaculture. This could be a professional who has a long history working in the gender and fisheries/aquaculture space, or someone more at the grassroot level doing innovative or inspiring work on the ground.

Lastly, I want to, with great humility, recognise my predecessor, Dr Veikila Vuki for her tireless efforts to keep the Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin rich with articles, and setting a high bar for all. Veikila invested hours of her personal time helping Pacific Island writers publish their work in the bulletin, and I hope we can continue her legacy and example, and share our stories with each other in true Pacific style. Meanwhile, enjoy issue #29 and please share it with friends and colleagues.

Sangeeta Mangubhai

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