December 23, 2017

Asian Fisheries Science 29S Special Issue (2016)

This Special Issue of Asian Fisheries Science journal includes 12 papers and a report based on the presentations and posters of the 5th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF5) held during the 10th Indian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum, November 2014, Lucknow, India.

Reference: Gopal, N., M.J. Williams, M. Porter and K. Kusakabe. 2016. Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries: The Long Journey to Equality. Asian Fisheries Science (Special Issue) 29S. 246 pp.

Download complete Special Issue – Link

The Asian Fisheries Society is the only fisheries and aquaculture professional body to regularly conduct gender themed symposia. Through its active Indian Branch, AFS provided GAF5 with the platform for fisheries and gender researchers, development specialists and advocates to share their knowledge and network. We are pleased to note that GAF5, attracted many new participants, especially young students and researchers, as well as experienced experts.

Thanks to the Asian Fisheries Society, the Asian Fisheries Society-Indian Branch, the Local Organising Committee in India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA), United States Agency for International Development MARKET project (USAID-MARKET), Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development), Marine Exports Development Authority (India), National Fisheries Development Board (India), ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Aquaculture without Frontiers and the presenters and their host organisations.

In this Guest Editorial, we reflect on the “long journey” to addressing gender equality in aquaculture and fisheries, the emerging trends that we saw in GAF5, and the trends more generally in gender in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. We also provide an overview of the papers in this Special Issue.


The present paper examines how, despite headwinds, existing and new institutions such as networks have launched a variety of gender activities. The institutions’ work can be grouped into four categories: diagnostic exercises leading to action, human capacity development including network formation, development projects, and embedded gender policies and programs.

In the Barotse Floodplain, Zambia, many factors restrict people’s abilities to engage in activities to secure food and income. Women, and in particular resident women, are especially constrained by gender norms and power relations. Resident women typically rely on other, less remunerative livelihoods. Having greater capital, education and confidence, non-resident women fish traders have different relations with fishers but their negotiations can still put them at a personal and economic disadvantage in securing fish. Findings from two qualitative studies show how deep rooted certain norms, practices and power relations are and their influence shaping women’s (and men’s) participation in key nodes of the value chain.

Wawata Topu is a documentary portraying a group of women divers in Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. Initially aimed at increasing the visibility of women’s roles in the fisheries sector, the filmmaking process brought along a practical negotiation between the community and the filmmakers on the topics to be included in the film. This paper describes the filmmaking process, reports on the final contents of the film, and explains the reasons the different themes were included. Based on the notion of narrative capital, we suggest that this process of negotiation resulted in the enhancement of the women’s narrative capabilities. that helped the protagonists to transform their enhanced capacity to be heard and acknowledged into social and symbolic resources leading to economic and health benefits.

By analysing the situation of women fish processors in Battambang, Cambodia, the study found that the reasons women have difficulty in organising collective business are not only the characteristics of resources (fluctuating and diminishing supply of fish) or user groups (and women’s time poverty) but the gender power relations that make it impossible for women traders to work collectively. The particular nature of product and market make women processors dependent on Thai traders. Hence they compete rather than cooperate to sell to the Thai market.

In Stung Treng Province north-east Cambodia, the WISH-Pond system and participatory action research has been used by the community to test and develop aquaculture ponds that meet the needs of households, women in particular. This paper explores the role of gender in community science and in the development and adoption of SSA systems as an alternative livelihoods and contributions to improving management of wetland resources.

The project “Thematic Studies on Gender in Aquaculture in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam”, undertook studies in Lower Mekong Initiative countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), Thailand and Vietnam, to assess the current status of gender policies relevant to aquaculture, key issues in women’s empowerment and participation in aquaculture value chains, and identified organisations working on promoting gender in aquaculture. This paper focused on the process, challenges and opportunities of running a project which introduces gender studies into mainstream aquaculture institutes.


The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (VG SSF) are a major achievement towards ensuring secure and sustainable small scale fisheries. Significant is that the VG SSF make a serious attempt to include the role of women in small scale fisheries; they address issues of importance for women’s lives and livelihoods and attempt to ensure gender sensitive policies and measures. This note synthesises all the articles of the VG SSF of importance for gender equality in small scale fisheries and assesses the opportunities and limitations. The note concludes that the VG SSF, despite several weaknesses, do provide an opportunity for a transformative plan of action for implementation and key strategies are identified.

Two projects in Khulna Division, South West Bangladesh are compared and discussed using an analytical framework based on different gender and learning approaches. Effective gender-transformative engagement in the aquaculture sector is predicated on more complex understandings of gender in combination with a readiness by formally trained scientists to allow women and men farmers to “follow the technology”.  This comparative analysis found that women are empowered even without “transformational” training on gender provided that access to knowledge and resources is possible along with purposive targeting.


The Traditional Knowledge (TK) of communities is closely linked to their way of life. The present study documented the TK of Meitei community in Manipur state in North East India. Women are a very prominent presence in the fishery related activities. They carry out fishing using traditional, simple and easy to manoeuver gear. Women are also active in processing fish for household use as well as for sale of dried, smoked and fermented fish. Marketing is almost entirely dominated by women, an example of which is the unique exclusive women’s market Nupi Keithal.

The important Vembanad estuarine system in Kerala, India provides livelihoods for the inland fishing community. This paper documents the fishing methods and examines the challenges faced by women whose fishing activities are confined to the inland water bodies. Women carry out fishing by traditional techniques that provide a better than subsistence living. This involvement is declining, however, with the younger generation showing no interest due to the drudgery and legal issues over rights to fishing.

In India, fish retailing has been mainly a women’s domain. The Government of Bihar, India has earmarked areas for fish markets in the city of Patna, but often the space is constrained and consumers find it difficult to access. Many fish vendors thus sell from locations on the pavements. In Patna, the proportion of women in fish markets has been decreasing over the past decade or more. The main reasons are insecurity, lack of basic facilities, literacy etc. Harassment from different quarters, such as the men retailers, administrative and the municipal authorities have been reported.

The present study identified the gender activity profile in ornamental fish culture and compared the attitude of the women in two selected survey sites in Kerala, India, one a rural area (Kotatt) and one a semi-urban area (Panangad). The attitude of women in Panangad towards ornamental fish farming was negative. Women felt that the culture was a loss making activity, having no impact on their economic status. The families in Kotatt region had a more positive attitude towards the culture, finding farming was stimulating and fetched them profits and better economic opportunities.