UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The contributions by women to fisheries economies worldwide Harper, Sarah Jane


Women make important but often undervalued contributions to fisheries economies globally. Missing these contributions has direct consequences for the sustainability of fisheries and for the millions who depend on fisheries resources worldwide. This work draws on the principles of economics and on other theoretical frameworks and knowledge systems to highlight the contributions by women to fisheries economies around the world. From interviews with Indigenous community members to online databases and national censes, I explore the range of data sources needed for a comprehensive picture of the fisheries economy. This investigation reveals that much needs to be done to improve the quality and scope of gender-disaggregated fisheries data if fisheries policies are to align with international guidelines for small-scale fisheries and goals related to sustainable development. The global synthesis of participation by women in fisheries, presented here, indicates that women represent approximately 11% of participants in small-scale fishing activities (2.1 million women), catch roughly 2.9 million (± 520,000) tonnes per year of marine fish and invertebrates, with a landed value of 5.6 billion (± 952 million) USD, and an economic impact of 14.8 billion USD per year (equivalent to 25.6 billion real dollars). These contributions are often missing from fisheries statistics and national accounts yet are fundamental to food and livelihood security. In the five major fishing countries (Mexico, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam) investigated in greater depth here, the limited available data indicate that women participate throughout the fish value chain but are under-represented in fisheries decision-making. At the community level, an investigation of the contributions by women to the fisheries-related economy in the Traditional Territory of the Heiltsuk Nation on Canada’s Pacific coast reveals important gender dimensions of linked human-herring systems and highlights the role of Indigenous women in fisheries leadership and governance. The chapters herein bring attention to women not only as important stakeholders in the fisheries sector but also as powerful agents of change in their communities and major contributors to food and livelihood security. These findings add to an evolving discourse around human dimensions of fisheries that calls for specific attention to women and gender.

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