8. Enhancing women's role in fisheries
A broad range of circumstances and factors affect women and policy initiatives and plans to deal with these must be broad, integrated and directed at issues rather than at sectors1,2. The importance of women to family welfare and national development must be recognised by relevant government agencies, which in turn must ensure adequate and appropriate resource allocation.
Previous fisheries policies
'Many times, development plans are geared towards the national interest and often the needs of the national government may not be the same as those of the rural dweller. Also, most of the revenue generated from the rural areas goes to cater for the growing needs of an urban based community, making the gap widen each year.... It is important that primary resource developments be planned side by side with an understanding of how the society works, and what forestry, fisheries and agriculture mean to the majority of rural dwellers. The rural dwellers, especially women, should take part in all stages...' (Liloqula3: 182)
It is significant that all national fisheries policies up to now have concentrated on exploiting fish for sale. The last two national plans include objectives such as 'maxirnising the economic returns from the exploitation of marine resources...'; 'promote the rational exploitation of marine resources...'; 'promote and encourage the growth of the private sector...' and the Fisheries Department's work4 has concentrated on efforts to: establish coastal fisheries as a commercially viable activity; determine resource availability [i.e. available for commercial exploitation], promote technical training [to harvest fish stocks]; improve fishing techniques [for more efficient harvesting] and investigate aquaculture possibilities [for raising commercially valuable shellfish]. Women's fishing activities are not seen as economically productive.
The absence of even an acknowledgement of the value of subsistence harvesting is only partly surprising however, as it is performed by women. The position of women in Vanuatu society has been discussed elsewhere. The social concept in agriculture programs noted by Mackenzie-Reur5 that 'Men look after cattle and fishing projects while women look after garden produce and weaving' is in play. Even in western societies men in many households are oblivious of how their food gets on the table (as long as it gets there), their clothes are washed and the house is cleaned.
Men need to be involved in activities related to the improvement of women's economic and social status in Vanuatu. Their involvement would assist in a better understanding of why women's views should be considered and incorporated before programs and policies are implemented5. Without men's involvement in the decision-making, improvements will be difficult to make. Hence, my emphasis is the development of community fishing opportunities.
Many government-supported fisheries ventures have failed and the hoped for injection of revenue from them has not eventuated. There are many reasons for this, including the part-time participation of fishers, men's spending patterns, government concessions, over-capitalisation?, inadequate fish stocks, and indiscriminate harvesting. By focussing on and promoting community-based fishing operations and businesses and women's fishing activities however, the Vanuatu Government is assured of success in encouraging private enterprise, injecting money into rural communities, achieving a wider spread of resource harvesting, and ensuring resource sustainability.
Women in fisheries
Women's fishing activities are in many places already vital to a communities' wellbeing Yet governments, aid organisations and churches tend to overlook. 'Women's development programmes are becoming increasingly unbalanced - it [always on] health, nutrition, sanitation, etc. - and these need to be reviewed for effectiveness.... Where [are] the services to the household production budget.' (Liloqula3, p. 182) - i.e developing the skills in fishing that women already have as household providers.
There are some things that only women do (for example, only women are reef gleaners and this can be done all year in most weather conditions) and there are some things that only men do (and these may be limited by seasonal conditions). Women's fishing activities take place within the community. Hence, while a few recommendations (such as the provision of better market facilities) will directly affect only women, most recommendations are given to benefit the communities of which women are a part.
Most rural women in Vanuatu are largely bound to their family and community by social conditioning and duties, child-rearing, education and economics and these women infrequently spend all day periods away from home. Women then, are the preferred group to undertake or engage in certain types of inshore fishing ventures.
Opportunities for increased female involvement in fisheries activities
Constraints to women's participation in currently recognised forms of commercial fishing in Vanuatu are discussed in chapter 7. An alternative is to encourage other ways of fishing. Grow-out fish farming can be done by communities; women can harvest high value (mudcrabs, bysters and stonefish) and niche (seaweed) inshore resources and prepare secondary fish products (dried, salted, bottled, smoked); women can participate in environment and resource management. Better fish marketing and prices can be achieved through acquisition of business and marketing skills, improved transport and facilities and post-harvest handling practices. Women can conduct business from the home through cooperative thinking and networking, and opportunities also exist for women as managers of fisheries businesses in urban and rural areas. Already in Vanuatu some women are buyers (middlemen) of product.
Management of inshore fish resources is in its infancy in Vanuatu. It is expressed almost entirely in the form of tabus initiated by the research section of the Fisheries Department to conserve exploitable trochus and greensnail stocks, and enthusiastically followed by many coastal village councils and chiefs. In the consultant's view, inshore fisheries management will (and should) become the most important item on the Fisheries Department's agenda, and not simply for safeguarding export commodities. This is because of the combination of the following factors: accessible subsistence and artisanal resources, an immense increase in the national population (currently about 2.9% annual growth rate, and at least half the population less than 15 years of age: chapter 2), the desire for education for one's children, and improved understanding about family nutrition. Whereas now women in some coastal communities rarely fish for subsistence, the consultant considers that they or their families will in the near future because of the need to provide - directly or through sale of product.
The contribution of women in the fisheries sector and their impact on resources will become increasingly important. Women's fishing activities directly affect inshore resource loss (presently it is minimal except for possibly near the urban centres). The Fisheries Department should prepare for and encourage the involvement of women by directing it along pathways that are environmentally sound (e.g. prohibition of traditional poisons), are diverse (e.g. selected harvest of reef fish, grow-out fish farming), ensure resource sustainability (e.g. improvements in post-harvest-handling and product diversification) and which encourage a high(er) financial return per unit of effort (e.g. salted trochus and greensnail, Bonefish marketing).
Over all of this, it is important to remember the two principles that form the basis for much commercial activity in Pacific Island nations: having the time and having the need for money (motivation). Income generation however, can come from frequency of performance and amount earned, and in this case, irregularity of fishing because of other demands on a woman's time can be offset by increasing the value of the product she sells through good handling and marketing.
A. Freshwater prawn and eel grow-out farming.
Freshwater prawns (naura) inhabit most streams and rivers and occasionally water taro swamps. They are said to be plentiful on Gaua, Maewo, Santo, Malekula, Epi and Aneityum, but are absent from northern Ambae streams (for example). The prawns are eaten for subsistence and for sale. Traditional methods of capture include darning sections of a stream and then draining it, putting a woven net across a stream and then muddying the water upstream to make the prawns move down into the net, trapping with a length of green bamboo or a woven, double trap, handlining, and spearing with bow and arrow, or with a wimera-type spear. Prawns are often seasonal in abundance.
The prawns are becoming increasingly popular as a saleable commodity. Villagers in inland southern Santo catch prawns for sale to Santo restaurants and in the market; prawns are sold occasionally through the Natal Fish Market in Vila, and many individuals and Chinese-owned stores purchase prawns. Annual yield of fresh-water prawns may be about 56 tonnes6. The price paid for prawns varies from 400-450 vt/kg (market, Santo), 600-650 vt/kg (hotel, Santo) to 900-1,100 vtlkg (Vile hotels, stores). Lower prices are paid for speared or damaged prawns. The prawns are always sold head-on. The increasing value of the prawns (and over-harvesting effects) is evidenced by:
some south Santo vendors purchasing ice, driving to the end of the inland road, and buying prawns off villagers who have walked down with prawns bundled in laplap leaves; and
the existence of two prawn farms (Gaua, north Maewo) where systems of raceways are used.
Farming of freshwater prawns could be taken up by more communities. it is suggested that the farming venture consist of:
1. collection of small prawns in traps or dammed streams,
2. stocking of the small prawns in ponds. Freshwater prawns have a habit of climbing out of ponds and escaping, so the sides of the pond (at least) should be sheer (e.g. covered with cement or? bamboo). The ponds may need to be covered with chicken wire or open thatch to prevent predation by birds,
3. feeding the prawns with vegetable (?only) scraps,
4. netting-out prawns of suitable size for regular sale, or draining the pond to harvest all prawns,
5. either de-heading the prawns, salting lightly and packing in plastic bags for same day air transport to buyers, or chilling or freezing whole prawns for sale over several days.
The price paid for quality de-headed prawns should be sufficiently high to offset airfreight costs. Light salting has been advised as a method of keeping the prawns in good condition for at least a day - this practice would make prawn farming feasilble where ice is unavailable. However, freshwater prawns do not keep as well as marine prawns, so good post-harvest handling practices would be required.
The consultant identified one place - northern Ambae - where community prawn farming could be trialed: small prawns could be purchased from Maewo villagers and trans-shipped to ponds not far distant from the Longana airstrip, which receives a six days/week plane service. Other places (where air service is less frequent) are Aneityum6 and Gaua. There are probably others. Another probably suitable farming area is Aulua in eastern Malekula, although it has a one-hour road link to either Norsup or Lamap airstrip.
Small prawns could also be stocked in water taro swamps an farmed in a much less intensive way.
The advantages of freshwater prawn farming are:
1. it utilises a resource that is widespread and perhaps not abundant and concentrates it so hat it can be harvested effectively;
2. it is low cost and low maintenance after set-up;
3. it does not require special skills and is not time-consuming;
4. it involves the whole community as can be done within the village area;
5. harvesting can be done whenever income is required;
6. the farmed product has a high value; and
7. income goes almost directly to the community.
Eel farming could be conducted in a similar fashion to naura. The consultant heard reports that eels (Anguilla species) inhabit many freshwater systems in Vanuatu but that they are not a preferred food for many Ni-Vanuatu. However, value-adding (such as smoking) and/or effective marketing would increase their popularity. Smoked eel is in fair demand on some overseas markets, and some trial shipments to the Brisbane market a few years ago were favourably received (F. N'gyuen, pers. comm.).
The eels are collected as juveniles (elvers or glass-eels) when they ascend the rivers each year, then stocked into ponds and fed with garden and vegetable scraps (and other items?). The eels are harvested at the size required by the market. Postharvest handling and smoking could be done in communities - as long as quality standards were maintained.
Mullet could be farmed under grow-out conditions as well. However there are known problems to mullet farming (such as slow growth rate). There appears to be a lack of knowledge of mullet abundance, distribution, seasonality and fishery in Vanuatu (the consultant was told mullet are very abundant in southern Santo).
B. Diversification of fisheries products.
Ni-Vanuatu harvest a limited number of inshore marine resources compared to many other western Pacific peoples. For example, seaweeds, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, jellyfish and sea-anemones are eaten in Fiji and Tonga but are not eaten in Vanuatu [Mote Lava people eat some sea cucumbers]; so also are more species of sedentary molluscs. In Fiji seaweed consumption levels are so high that the sustainability of the resource is in question7 and there is overharvesting of bivalves in northern Tongatapu (Tonga).
With appropriate guidance and post-harvest handling techniques opportunities exist for Vanuatu to export some popular seafood items (exclude the sea cucumbers) to their western Pacific neighbours. For example, seaweeds can be kept fresh for several days with careful handling and storage. Whereas airfreight rates have impeded some attempts at intra-regional trade of seafood products in the past, it should not be a deterrent once stocks of the preferred items are reduced in countries where there is demand.
All of these items inhabit the domain of the reef gleaners, the women. It is recommended that the Fisheries Training Centre employ a specialist in fish quality to research appropriate harvesting and handling techniques for seafood products destined for regional markets and to introduce the techniques to interested groups of women from islands where resources and transport facilities exist. The fish quality studies should be conducted in conjunction with a marketing survey of the western Pacific and surveys by the Fisheries Department research and extension sections of local resources.
New consumer products for Vanuatu and the western Pacific also can be developed at the Fisheries Training Centre - for example, smoked nawita (octopus)and smoked namarai (eel).
C. Seaweeds are an item that could bring considerable benefit to Ni-Vanuatu consumers as it is said to be a good source of iron,8 an element important in the production of red blood cells. Nutritional anaemia is a major nutritional problem for women and children in Vanuatu (chapter 4), and hookworm, malaria insufficient dietary protein and frequent pregnancies are implicated5. Anaemia among women affects their health status and reduces their social and economic productivity. It is possible that the consumption of seaweeds wilt alleviate anaemic symptoms in these women, so the Fisheries Department should collaborate with the Department of Health to investigate the utility of introducing seaweeds to local diets. This would be a clear example of women's fishing activities directly enhancing the health status of the nation.
Harvesting of seaweeds for sale is already being considered in the Maskelyne Islands.
D. Develop drying, salting, bottling and smoking of fish.
Preserving fish is useful when excess fish is harvested, when inclement weather or other activity prevents regular harvesting. It is also a time-saver (for later).
The usual ways of preserving fish in Vanuatu are by chilling or freezing it (where there is ice or electricity), by cooking or smoking it in breadfruit leaves or bamboo, and by frying it.
In most of Vanuatu there is no ice, yet often there is a lot of fish seasonally: mangrou and sardines, also flying fish and mullet, skipjack tuna. Presently, subsistence fish is eaten the day it is caught, cooked for eating the next day (or baked in breadfruit leaves), given away or sold in the community and then thrown away. Nowadays the abundance of mangrou fluctuates more than just with the season, as they are harvested with gillnets. This results in excess fish for some but insufficient fish for others. Commercial gillnetters sell mangrou in towns and large communities.
Apart from the desire to manage fish resources better, there are good reasons for promoting low technology fish preserving in the islands:
1. It can make use of a resource that is seasonally abundant so that fish is not wasted.
2. It enables fish to be sold in more distant areas or in areas where there is a shortage of (fish) protein (e.g. inland; urban areas).
3. It can provide a product ranging from being very low cost for low income families (such as in parts of Vila) to high cost, depending on the preserving method employed and the product preserved.
4. Having it available means that time is saved for women who have large families and protein can be included in most meals.
5. Having low cost fish protein available will enhance the well-being of low income families.
6. It doesn't require expensive equipment and is unaffected by equipment breakdown.
7. Freight rates are small because all product can be sent by inter-island vessels (i.e. doesn't require air-freight, but if it does - such as for smoked fish - the price of the product will offset the freight rates).
8. It is an ideal industry for women or communities as it can be done individually or by a group. Women in most rural areas could have the time to prepare it if they organised as a group.
9. Women and lower income people are more willing to perform the initial labourintensive task of cleaning and salting the fish - especially women who are more willing to spend their available time on small income generating activities (chapter 4). A prospective Vanuatu buyer of dried, salted sardines told the consultant that he had approached men at Malekula to supply him with product but that they'd refused, saying it was 'too much work'. Processing the fish can also be a social activity.
The sale of smoked fish was trialed in Vanuatu at least once in the recent past but the venture failed - lack of consumer acceptance (price too high for Ni-Vanuatu). However, it is the consultant's view that using or adapting a traditional method of preserving will meet with more producer and consumer acceptance. Whereas many people asked stated that Ni-Vanuatu did not dry or smoke fish, the following information came to light:
Baked fish in breadfruit leaves or bamboo. Preserving fish in breadfruit leaves is a traditional method used (or was used) in most areas visited by the consultant. The women placed fresh fish in breadfruit leaves (or bamboo plugged with breadfruit leaves) and baked it in the ground oven or on charcoals. Baked fish remained edible for 2-3 days, whence it was re-baked to keep it. By changing the leaves or the bamboo the fish could be kept for up to two weeks. Sometimes the fish bundle was stored in the ground.
Smoked fish in breadfruit leaves or bamboo. In some areas the fish is smoked above a fire. It is said to last longer than baked fish and does not need re-baking. Pentecost people interviewed reported that they used to smoke fish, and people on Laika(?) Island south-east of Epi smoke wading birds which they sell in pairs at local markets. David9 reported that Malekula people also used to smoke fish and the consultant met lady at Serser village (Wale Island) who recalled that it used to be done.
Drying fish with salt, or just salting fish. In north Pentecost and Longana (Ambae) fish used to be salted when fresh and then dried. In south Santo and west Santo fish used to be boiled dry, then salted and stored. The west Santo people stored the salted fish in large clay pots and covered the fish with dry leaves. The fish lasted up to two years. People in Epi (?Nalema village) dry fish from a freshwater lake (maybe these are tilapia). In Uripiv Island, mangrou is sometimes stored with salt in a bucket for 2-3 days before being cooked and eaten.
When informed, some island women were extremely interested in the prospect of drying and salting fish - women in north-eastern and south-eastern Malekula and south Santo. In areas where mangrou and sardines arc seasonally abundant, where the women have large families and where women perceive that they are in need of additional income, the consultant promoted it as a means of earning small but regular income (e.g. selling to Vila), saving time in meal preparation for the family whilst e ensuring balanced diet, as well as wisely using a resource. Women in some areas (e. g. Mota Lava, north-western Ambae, west Tanna) were not interested in 'mass production' of salted fish, but contemplated the possibility of making good money from salted trochus and greensnail meat (where those resources occur - there are reported markets in Asia).
The various ways of preserving that are recommended for trial (adaptation of traditional methods, and introduction of new) are:
salting and drying (e.g. for mangrou, sardines, picot. Mullet and flying-fish could be trialed but may be too oily; also trochus and greensnail)
drying (e.g. for skipjack tuna - jerkey. Some communities already make jerkey from cattle; also shark fin)
smoking (e.g. eel, mullet, flying fish, billfish, octopus)
bottling and vacuum-sealing (method demonstrated by he Fisheries Training Centre in Santo suitable for fish pieces - most fish)
One item that will greatly improve the processing of dried fish, give a better quality product and which will save time (for women) is the use of a solar dryer. These lowcost covered driers are put on the roof of the house and the fish being dried is protected from dust, animals (pigs, chickens, dogs) and rain.
Marketing the product will again prove to be important. Whilst it cannot compete with tinned fish (which is viewed as a commodity 'other than' fish) it must be shown as at least as good as and relatively 'free'. Finally, it is advantageous that these methods should be tried (again), as Vanuatu is faced with feeding an increasing population.
E. Collection and domestic sale of rock salt (for fish processing). Large deposits of rock salt develop on several islands in Vanuatu and its collection is a traditional and present-day activity. Collection of rock salt (Tafea Province) and its sale to domestic fishing ventures.
F. Niche products.
Live stonefish command extremely high prices on Asian markets (to more than USD70/plate: 1994). The fish attract such prices because of its very white flesh and, possibly, its reputation. Live stonefish are exported from Papua New Guinea to Asia.
The consultant has no information on the marketability of stonefish fillets, yet enquiry may prove useful. There are stonefish 'in abundance' on mudflats in Vanuatu (e.g. Port Sandwhich). Impediments to exploitation (apart from marketing information) would include air freight of live product and the in-operable freezer.
Frogs legs are consumed in several countries and in recent years it has proven difficult to keep supply up to demand The people of Ambae informed the consultant that there are great numbers of frogs (not native) living around the island's lakes. Their harvest and processing (e.g. as smoked frogs legs) could be a very worthwhile industry and would be low technology.
Dried, salted sardines have been recommended as a product which is very acceptable in Asian markets. Chinese buyers in Vanuatu could act as middlemen for the product. This small industry could be developed as drying and salting techniques on local fish (point D.) are perfected. [see also appendix 4]
G. Reef management and ecotourism.
Women are efficient and adept harvesters of seafoods. Their fishing activities usually require keen eyesight and skill with the use of hands and feet. The women have an intimate knowledge and understanding of their immediate environment10. They possess an excellent knowledge and understanding of their immediate environment reef ecology and general species biology. They understand the distribution patterns, relative abundance, catchability and biology of inshore fisheries resources. They should be consulted in matters about the use of those resources. This knowledge is also frequently overlooked by researchers11. Women are the first in the community to identify changes in the reef or inshore habitat. Accordingly, women are the best people to enlist in programs concerned with reef management.
Ecotourism - where visitors pay to 'just look' - is an industry yet to develop in Vanuatu. Planners and operators of future ecotourism ventres would do well to engage women from certain coastal communities as guides.
H. Marketing of mud crab meat.
Mud crabs ('Caledonie crabs') are despatched to Santo and Vila markets, hotels and restaurants from places such as South West Bay and Lamap on an irregular basis. Crabs are also sold in local markets (and are harvested for subsistence).
Reportedly very abundant, their commercial exploitation has been hindered by high air freight rates and possibly maintenance of quality and seasonal abundance and irregularity of supply.
Mud crabs can be sold in two ways however: whole (preferred by the tourist market but more expensive to despatch) and meat-only. Here, the crabs are harvested then cooked (boiled, or baked in ground oven), shelled, the meat removed after cooling, then packed in plastic bags. Buyers of crab meat packs include restaurant and hotel chefs and home consumers.
This industry has advantages for women (communities) in that it can be done in the village and requires no special skills nor equipment, and the relative value of product offsets air freight charges. Its disadvantage is that the cooked meat may not keep for more than one day without refrigeration (and the Lamap ice plant is currently out of operation). Still, processing could be scheduled to co-incide with plane services. The meat could be sold direct to Natai Fish Market (freezer).
I. Marketing of whole crabs and oysters.
Mangrove crabs can remain alive for several days out of water, as can whole mangrove oysters. Southern and eastern Malekula communities occasionally send oysters by inter-island ferry to Vila (and Santo?) markets, but the consultant did not hear whether they also sent crabs. More regular supply of both items to the urban markets by boat, would benefit communities and should be encouraged. The communities need to be familiar with principles of supply and demand and keep watch over 'agent's commission'.
Land crabs inhabit dome islands of Vanuatu and are sold in strings or baskets at village markets or sent to Vila for sale6. Their presence in markets appears to be dependent on their migration to spawn (when they are caught) and the motivation of people to catch them. Crabs sell for about 10 vatu each in times of market abundance - when a lot of vendors sell crabs at the same time. Effective marketing can yield a better return and was demonstrated by a lady the consultant met at Norsup. The lady had just purchased a string of 14 land crabs for 150 vt. She regularly buys crabs for her family of four: when she gets home she releases the crabs and puts them in a shaded enclosure with water, feeds them vegetable scraps, and uses them as she requires. The crabs stay alive indefinitely. The consultant suggests that harvesters should also practice this: by selling limited numbers of the crabs regularly and when there is not a glut on the market, they would make more money. (There also would be less resource wastage.)
J. Fishing gear repair and construction.
There is work opportunity for a small number of women to engage in net repair and gear construction. There is at least one such business in Vila and probably another in Santo. Demand would be limited because ready-made nets are available in the larger towns and most communities have access to skilled net-menders. The high cost of new gillnets (c. 16,000 vt) may encourage business. Some women who received training in the recent Rural Women's Fishing Training Course at Santo have expressed interest in running such a business.
Women's skills could also be enlisted to make traditional traps and nets instead of synthetic ones; but social tabus may exist to prevent such enterprise in different islands.
K. Improvement of market facilities.
1. Storage; fees; ablutions.
Women vendors at the Santo and Vila markets sleep overnight on the concrete market floor. Many of the women have relatives or friends in the towns with whom they could stay, but they stay at the market otherwise they would have to pay another market fee if they left, and the problem of hiring a local transport to take their unsold produce to the overnight stop. The market floor is not the best place to sleep, especially when you have small children, are pregnant, ill or older.
The consult suggests that the market authorities be approached to see if
a) the fee could cover two days, and
b) they could construct lockers or some other storage system wherein the vendors could store unsold produce for the next day.
Some women also stated that the provision of more toilet and bathing facilities would be beneficial.
Access to a coolroom at the Santo market would be an advantage. Freshwater naura, coconut crabs, mangrou and fried fish could be sold there. It would stay in better condition for longer, so attract higher prices, hence mean that less resources would need to be harvested to attain the desired income.
The type of coolroom as at the Lautoka (Fiji) market is envisioned: tiled benches, concrete floor with drains for easy cleaning, flyscreen walls, plastic strip doors and hoses attached to taps.
The consultant suggests that an aid organisation such as the Australian or New Zealand high commissions, be approached to investigate the feasibility and construction of these facilities.
L. Shell and coconut crab sales.
Sale of shells to tourists is an established earner and, throughout the Pacific, provides a steady income12. Selling shells is a suitable small venture for many women: the women gather tile shells while they are reef gleaning (i.e. requires no special collecting activity), processing and m maintenance are simple and the shells are nonperishable. Some women make simple necklaces and ornaments from shells. There is scope for one of the non-government organisations or churches to contract a craftsperson to teach more intricate designs and shapes. The (tourist) market exists in Vanuatu for shell products and the overseas market could be tapped with higher level product.
Collection and sale of coconut crabs is another easier activity for women. This issue is discussed by Preston13 and is being monitored by the Department of Environment and the Fisheries Department. The consultant's only additional comment is that if supply is small and regular, Vanair may be persuaded to always provide cargo space. This cooperation would encourage resource security in that excess crabs are not destroyed.
Women's earnings are modest and half of the women selling in markets earn less than 1,000 vt a week14. Even then, they are a significant source of support for their families. The WBU14 study showed that 89% of women's earnings are spent on basic household requirements such as food and 38% is spent on school fees and 38% on business licence fees for their businesses (marketing). A prominent local merchant of peanuts and kava in Vanuatu told the consultant that women are much better at handling money than men. When this merchant sets up a growing-selling arrangement with a community he ensures that the women take up bank accounts into which he deposits the community payments.
The spending pattern of men is usually very different to women's as they are subject to (societal) pressures of monetary distribution that women do not have15 and are also not so responsible for providing for the family. Men spend a larger share of their income on luxury consumption items such as alcohol and cigarettes. Men are not as good as managing money as are women who generally have better concepts of budgeting (ANZDEC15, pers. comm., Department of Industry, Trade & Commerce).
Women are good at starting 'small' in business and building up (pers. comm., WBU). They are often better negotiators than men who often listen to their opinions on community activities (e.g. Epi Island - pers. comm.)
1. Some of the main items needed are business management and marketing skills for rural women. To the WBU and to the consultant, women throughout Vanuatu expressed a lot of interest in business management and book-keeping courses. Courses for women in book-keeping, marketing skills, costing, credit, simple economics (profit and loss, supply and demand), negotiation skills, communication skills, decision making and time management should be made available to rural as well as urban women. Self-esteem (confidence) courses would be an advantage. In some of this training (such as personal development), it would be an advantage to include men.
2. An adjunct of this is the provision of a scholarship in business studies each year to a woman from a devoted fishing community each year (one community in southern Santo specifically requested this).
3. Training is required in fish quality (especially, invertebrates) and processing (smoking, drying, bottling); also product development and marketing. Training attachments - in-country - or a scholarship for institutional training in fish quality or fish farming techniques should also be offered to women from communities where such skills would be useful (e.g. Ambae, central Malekula, southern Santo).
4. The concept of small cooperatives of women partitioning tasks for the benefit the group: for example, extra childcare and cooking services done by some members to enable others to engage in commercial activity, and the money earned shared among the whole group. Some reports (e.g. pers. comm., WBU, VANGO) say that women cooperate well under informal arrangements and have strong organisational skills: they should be encouraged to participate more fully in cooperative ventures. An example of cooperative fishing is demonstrated by women villagers along the Rewa River (Fiji): the villagers divide into two groups which alternatively harvest 'kai' (shellfish) and sell it at the market. 'In this manner' (Vunisea10: 29) 'an oversupply in markets is avoided and the women are also free to attend to other duties during their week off from fishing.'
Finally, just how much does women's fishing and understanding of inshore ecosystems contribute to national revenue, national well-being and the national information base? Apart from the agricultural surveys performed little comparative information is available, and those surveys are general, accenting commercial and artisanal fishing.
5. Surveys should be undertaken to collect data on women's fishing activities. The information from these surveys should be used to support government interest and expenditure on appropriate extension services and training programs. A 24hour recall nutrition survey performed recently by the Department of Health may give an indication of the contribution of fish to national health. A form for a small survey is provided in Appendix 3. SPC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) should be approached for ideas for undertaking a more comprehensive survey. For example, one similar to that conducted by ACIAR in Fiji16 Rawlinson et al., no date).
in gill netting: ® buy gear and esky ® need credit schemes
to own a boat for droplining etc.: ® need credit scheme
(NB: social tabus may impede)
® learn negotiation skills
® get a driver's licence
® buy a four-wheel drive ® need credit schemes
to manage a business ® learn business management, negotiation skills, etc.
getting more money
- from product ® get fish quality information/skills
- from high value products
® use traps (safe gear)
® learn new harvest skills
® learn new processing skills
® fish more regularly
® develop/use cooperative thinking (and employ assistance)
® learn time management skills.
IN ADDITION - OR ALTERNATIVELY: create different fisheries for them.
1 UNICEF (1991). A situation analysis of children and women in Vanuatu. Vanuatu Government. 97 pp.
2 Bowie, C. (1995). Voice blong ol woman. "The women's voice". Report of the rural women's needs assessment. Vanuatu National Council of Women. 183 pp.
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