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Richard Freeman, Research Officer / PhD Candidate, FARNET / Newcastle University (UK)

Topic: Gender roles in small-scale fisheries and the impact of Fisheries Local Action Groups: a comparative case study of three EU countries

Key words: small-scale fisheries, women, gender, fisheries local action groups


Many researchers have noted that there is an under-representation of gender approaches in both fisheries policy and academic literature. While fisheries are widely considered a male-dominated industry, in many small-scale fisheries’ areas, women play a significant and vital role in the survival of small-scale businesses and are frequently the driving force of innovation, diversification, and the development of new markets. However, these roles are often unseen – with the fishing men of family businesses being the registered  beneficiary and performer of more visible tasks. Although fisheries studies have focused on gender, no study has yet considered or contextualised the impact of Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) on both the role and visibility of women in small-scale fisheries. Drawing on the case study of Hiiumaa (Estonia), Dalmatia (Croatia), and the Costa da Morte (Spain), this paper explores changing gender roles in small-scale fisheries and how women have been impacted by FLAGs. We find that women are central to the innovation and diversification of many small family-run businesses and that FLAGs are instrumental to developing these roles – that FLAGs support and empower women in fisheries communities, shedding light on their contribution to the industry. We explore how these factors may have a significant impact on the future long-term success and survival of many small-scale family-run fisheries and their local communities. While this paper focuses on the qualitative findings from three FLAG area case studies, it also draws on the quantitative study of 113 FLAG areas across the EU.

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