Worldwide, women play a wide range of roles within fisheries, making significant contributions to the industry across sectors from a variety of positions, however their role and contribution is often under-recognised or ‘invisible’. They contribute as fishers’ wives, traders, operators in processing factories, managers and administrators in fishing or fishing-related companies. Women are clearly an important part of the workforce, whether paid or unpaid and making a significant contribution to the industry, their families and their communities.
The existing information about women in today’s English fishing industry was found to be inadequate, fragmented and scattered and official statistics show that women’s participation in fisheries is low with the exception of the processing sector. This means that the ‘invisible’ women in fisheries are denied access to institutional and state support as well as many other things. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the UK and the European Commission (EU) commissioned a group of researchers to investigate exactly what the contribution of women is, in an attempt to contribute to knowledge in this area whilst also aiming to inform policy makers.
A paper recently published in Marine Policy and written/researched by staff from the Greenwich Maritime Institute and Iris Consulting, also looks into various other elements such as women in families, enterprises & communities; sexual harassment and cultural taboos; women as a labour source in fisheries; women in processing factories, trading and management.
To view the full paper: Zhao M, et al. Women as visible and invisible workers in fisheries: A case study of Northern England. Marine Policy (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.04.013
This research is now being built upon as part of a three-year EU-funded Project, Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability (GIFS). To view the progress of the GIFS project please see the following website: www.gifsproject.eu