Women as visible and invisible workers in fisheries: A case study of Northern England

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

Public Lecture on Marine Fishing, 28th March 2012

The importance of the marine fishing industry to English and French coastal communities is the subject of a free public lecture at the University of Greenwich’s Medway Campus on 28 March.

The lecture will examine the social and cultural importance of marine fishing to coastal communities along the English Channel. Audio recordings and photographs will be used to provide a colourful glimpse of the contribution that marine fishing makes to the identity of coastal places.

People, plaice and chips: Marine fishing and coastal communities along the English Channel will be presented by two academics from the university’s School of Science: Dr Tim Acott, Principal Lecturer in Environmental Geography, and Dr Julie Urquhart, Research Fellow. Both are involved in the English-French collaborative project CHARM (Channel Integrated Approach to Marine Resource Management), co-funded by the INTERREG 4a Channel Programme.

The pair are also leading a €4.6 million project, called the Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability (co-funded by the INTERREG 4a 2 Seas Programme), exploring the social, cultural and economic importance of marine fishing for the development of sustainable coastal communities.

Dr Acott says: “Many coastal communities have strong links to fishing that span generations and fishing is a way of life that goes beyond the means to earning a living. Fishing’s influence is not confined to those activities that take place at sea, but spills over onto land to create a particular identity and sense of place in coastal towns inherently linked to fishing.

“Many people enjoy the spectacle of fishing while on holiday, the bright boats, the atmosphere of a real fishing place and the heritage taking us back to simpler times when villages and towns grew up on the back of the fishing industry.”

Last year the University of Greenwich hosted a major international conference about the cultural and social impacts of marine fishing on coastal communities, titled It’s Not Just About The Fish.

The lecture takes place in the Pembroke Building, Medway Campus, at 6.30pm and will be followed by light refreshments. If you would like to attend, please email science-public-lectures@gre.ac.uk and register your name.

For more details on the School of Science’s conferences and events, please visit www.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/science/about/events


University of Greenwich leads €4.6 million project to help regenerate fishing communities

Researchers at the University of Greenwich are leading a €4.6 million project helping to regenerate coastal fishing communities on both sides of the English Channel and the southern North Sea.

Focussing on towns and villages with traditional small scale fishing fleets, they will look at the ways local inshore fishing contributes to the identity of places and their communities, as well as seeking new sustainable opportunities to boost regeneration and economic growth.

The University of Greenwich team is headed by environmental geographers Dr Tim Acott and Dr Julie Urquhart, from the School of Science and social scientist Dr Minghua Zhao from the Greenwich Maritime Institute. They joined forces with research colleagues in France and Flanders to secure co-funding from the European Interreg IVa 2 Seas programme for the three-year project, Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability.

Dr Urquhart says: “Inshore marine fishing is at the heart of so many places, whether they have just a few small fishing boats pulled up on a shingle beach or a harbour that is the centre of activity for a larger fishing fleet.

“You cannot think about places like Whitstable, Brixham or Newlyn without recalling fishing and local seafood. Inshore marine fishing is central to their identity as communities and places.”

The project was one of just 12 successful bids out of a total of 49 applications to the most recent European Regional Development Fund 2 Seas cross-border programme.

Project leader Dr Acott says: “We will be building on valuable research we have already been doing in fishing communities.

“Working with researchers in France and Flanders gives us a cross-cultural perspective and opportunities to share ideas and solutions to common problems – not least how the sense of identity within fishing communities can make a significant contribution to regeneration and sustainable economic growth.

“Our findings will help to provide the information people need to develop new activities on the ground to regenerate their communities and feed into policy decisions which will ensure a sustainable future. We are hoping to help to create a sense of shared identity in fishing places across the region.”

Plans include photographic exhibitions exploring life in fishing communities and a demonstration project of fishing heritage-led regeneration at the fishing village of Arnemuiden, in The Netherlands.

For further information contact Project Manager, Suzanne Louail. s.louail@gre.ac.uk

GMI MPhil/PhD Studentship

Women’s Contribution to Social Cohesion in Coastal Communities

University of Greenwich – Greenwich Maritime Institute

Ref: PGRO-GMI-2-11

Greenwich Maritime Institute, Greenwich, London

Greenwich Maritime Institute is pleased to offer one externally funded MPhil/PhD Studentship as part of the Interreg 4a 2 Seas project GIFS (Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability). The GIFS project will explore the socio-economic and cultural importance of inshore fishing including governance, economic regeneration and the cultural value of fishing, and provides an opportunity for the successful candidate to be part of a cross-border inter-disciplinary research team. The research topic will relate specifically to women’s contribution to social cohesion in coastal communities in four European countries: Belgium, Britain, France and the Netherlands and the investigation will focus on these dimensions: (1) Women’s employment, income, health and education; (2) Women’s perception and feelings of safety, security and freedom; (3) Women’s access to and construction of networks amongst themselves and with others; (4) Women’s participation in main stream institutions

The successful candidate will be working as part of the cross-border GIFS project team and will be expected to travel and participate in fieldwork, project activities and meetings in the above noted four countries.

The successful candidate will receive a £13590 per annum bursary plus a contribution of up to £4000 per annum towards the tuition fees during the term of the studentship (three years), subject to satisfactory performance. An additional £2,000 per annum will also be available for fieldwork expenses.

Applicants must hold a 1st Class or Upper 2nd class Honours Bachelor’s or Master’s degree (UK or UK equivalent) in a relevant discipline for example geography, history, woman’s studies, environmental studies, political science, sociology or anthropology. Applicants should have previous experience of undertaking research, preferably in gender studies, and ideally experience of fisheries related to European counties. Excellence in English speaking and writing is essential, preferably also with an ability to speak fluent French or Dutch.

For further information please contact: Dr Minghua Zhao, M.Zhao@gre.ac.uk, Tel: 020 8331 7661

For additional information about the studentship and links to the application form please go to:http://www2.gre.ac.uk/research/study/studentships 

The application form should be completed and returned to: postgraduateresearch@gre.ac.uk  and include: an attached pdf file of a comprehensive CV and a one page covering letter explaining your interest in the project and how it relates to past experience and present motivations.

The closing date for applications is noon on 31 January 2012.