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The experience of women in the British Columbia fishery during a climate of crisis and change Christie, Patricia Anne

Abstract

The British Columbia fishery is in crisis. Environmental conditions and problems with the management of the fishing resource have led to a significant reduction in stocks and created serious economic problems in the industry. Women's work is central to the fishery yet it is often unpaid, underpaid and undervalued. Policies guiding the restructuring of the industry do not take into account the unique circumstances of women in the industry. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to improve the understanding about the ways fishery policy impacts the lives of women in the fishing communities of BC. The question posed: What is the experience of women in the BC Fisheries during a climate of crisis and change? A feminist approach is applied to this qualitative study. Unstructured interviews were conducted with a sample of nine women who have worked in the industry and are impacted by closures and cutbacks. Findings reveal a devastating magnitude of loss for these women and their families; a great mistrust of the motives of the Federal government and its policies; and a multitude of strategies used in their struggle for survival. The critical inequities in the fishing industry make this study particularly relevant to social work. Further research is warranted to develop adjustment, programs that address these inequalities and meet the needs of women in the coastal communities of BC. Limitations of thisstudy and suggestions for future research are discussed in the light of these findings.

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