An overview: Women in the aquaculture and fisheries sector

Flavie Denelle, Mar 2018

On this 8th of March 2018, on International Women’s Day, it is important to realize that we are far from gender equality in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. While the aquaculture and fisheries sector has grown in the last decades, the role of women in the fisheries and farms has yet to catch up.


A woman, head of her own family farm in shrimp aquaculture, Ca Mau province, Vietnam.


Women are more common in small-scale production. Household farms and fisheries remain a family business and the women appear to have more responsibilities and seem to do more work than in more intensive production systems. In household businesses, women work more on marketing, sales, post-harvest and artisanal processing etc. But in more intensive production systems, women are often forgotten, displaced or relegated to low paid jobs. There are very few women that have jobs like managers, owners, or executives in bigger companies.


It appears that standards, certification schemes etc. are not having a big enough impact on gender issues in fisheries and aquaculture. They should focus more on meeting the Gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (Sustainable Development Goal #5) and the Decent work and economic growth (Sustainable Development Goal #8). But it does not work if all the actors involved in fisheries and aquaculture production are not focusing on these issues. Furthermore, the focus on gender equality should be embedded in the whole production process: planning, development, monitoring, evaluation etc., and relevant support for tackling gender issues should be available.


The Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) and Asian Fisheries Society (AFS) has been created to promote equitable and effective cooperation among scientists/academics, technicians, fisheries officers and non-governmental organization experts involved in issues related to gender in fisheries and aquaculture so as to advance research and practice in Asia-Pacific and other regions of the world. Consequently, GAFS could help countries like Malaysia tackle the gender inequality issue in the aquaculture and fisheries sector, and offer better opportunities for women.


For more information, see the GAFS website.


Retrieved from The Washington Post, Max Fisher (May 15, 2013).

But racial discrimination can still happen in European countries as well. A study in The Netherlands showed that people are still discriminated in hiring if they appear to have North-African or Arabic roots. This is a problem because it is illegal to discriminate people based on their race. In the seafood sector this is also an issue. Either workers are forced to work or workers are discriminated. FairAgora Asia believes that it is important to tackle these issues in Southeast-Asia more specifically through carefully developed social metrics and partnerships.


Fair recruitment procedures and non-discrimination should be on the agenda of every company, organization and government. Consequently, it is very important that states take comprehensive and efficient measures to combat racism, racial discrimination and other types of intolerance. States should therefore also promote inclusion, tolerance, and respect for diversity in all sectors.