Fish are women's work
Fishers, like farmers, are not just men.
Millions of women around the world work, paid or
unpaid, in the fisheries sector. Although women are
mainly involved in the tasks that come before and
after the fish are hauled out of the water, they
may also be there for the catch or the harvest.
At the artisanal level, their preparatory work
includes making and mending nets, baskets and pots,
baiting hooks and providing services to the fishing
boats. They practise their own fishing both for
commercial and subsistence purposes, often from
canoes and in areas close to their settlement. They
also collect prawn larvae and fish for fingerlings
to stock aquaculture ponds, and attend the ponds.
They harvest seaweeds and shellfish and often work
alongside their menfolk at sea.
a young girl makes a fishing net
women vendors use new aluminum fish
smoking fish at the market
fish seller at Kanchanaburi market
As in other fields, women are often called on
when times are hard and wages for other crew
members cannot be paid. Bearing primary
responsibility for feeding the family, women may
also turn to fishing or fish-farming as a source of
food and additional income. One
woman's day in Sierra Leone shows the woman
fishing in the local pond from 4 to 5.30 in the
morning and from 5 to 6 at night.
Women's most prominent role in fisheries, both
artisanal and industrial, is at the post-harvest
and processing and marketing stages. In developing
countries, they are there when the fish are landed
on the beach, and they sort, clean, dry and smoke
fish and take it to market. They have the chance to
keep unmarketable or lower value species for the
family pot. In Western Africa and in Asia, up to 80
percent of seafood is marketed by women.
Industrial fisheries change much of this.
Synthetic factory-made nets replace hand-made ones
and the fish are landed at large ports, already
frozen and bound straight for processing plants.
Because of this women are increasingly employed in
fish factories. In India, 25 000 young girls from
the State of Kerala work in shrimp factories for
several months every year.
In this section
Making an income from
Burkina Faso, TeleFood helps women sell their
the catch in Mauritania
Guinea, a women's group gets new fish ovens