GAF6, 11AFAF and TBTI in Thailand - Small-Scale Fisheries, Gender and Food Security


GAF6, 11AFAF and TBTI in Thailand - Small-Scale Fisheries, Gender and Food Security

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Natasha Stacey and Kim Hunnam recently attended the 6th Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF6) held in Bangkok (3-6 August) as part of the 11th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum (11AFAF). The Symposium was attended by around 60 global experts, researchers and practitioners, and presented an excellent opportunity to network with old and new colleagues. Natasha presented a paper on preliminary results to date from the ACIAR funded “Small scale fisheries in Indonesia: the role of women, benefits to household and opportunities for improving livelihoods” project we have with researchers from Murdoch University and Institute Pertainian Bogor, Indonesia. Based on our analysis to date we reported that a gendered approach to small scale fisheries, management and livelihood enhancement programs and benefits is often lacking. We also met with members of the project team who were in attendance to plan the next components of our project drawing on some of the approaches and lessons presented on gender equity, analysis and application to fisheries.

Natasha presenting at GAF6


There were many interesting presentations at both GAF6 and AFAF (see links for full program), including by:

  • Alexander Kaminski (WorldFish Zambia) who presented ‘A gendered value chain analysis of post-harvest losses in the Barotse Floodplain, Zambia’. Surveys identified that women generally had higher fish losses and made half the profit of men (due to higher costs). Potential explanations included lack of time due to other tasks undertaken by women such as childcare and meal preparation, and lack of access (e.g. to technology). Ongoing project activities include participatory development of fish processing technologies, and presenting plays to promote women’s empowerment and participation.
  • Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez (National Autonomous University of Mexico) on ‘Lake Chapala’s fish value chain dependence on female labor’, which investigated the income contribution of women fish processors. Women’s contributions were particularly important when the catch of their fisher-husbands was small as the women continued to have a reliable source of income from filleting fish caught elsewhere. Local fish was also less preferred by consumers due to lake pollution. An interesting video of fish filleting was shown.
  • Horacio Gervásio (Mozambique) who presented ‘Practices, beliefs and other factors influencing access to fish for food’, which investigated men and women’s perceptions on fishing, processed fish and nutritional value in an inland fishing community in Mozambique. Strong gender divisions on the use of fishers’ catches were identified: men’s catch was sold for cash (which was often used on things other than food), while women’s catch was kept for household consumption. Findings also suggested that local people did not eat dried fish as it was perceived as food for poor people; and most fish was distributed away from the local area because most fishers were immigrants (not locals) and inland customers paid higher prices.
  • Zaw Min Naing (Centre for Economic and Social Development, Myanmar), who gave an overview of fish consumption and food security in Myanmar by conducting a detailed analysis of an existing nation-wide Integrated Household Living Condition Survey.
  • Afrina Choudhury (WorldFish, Bangladesh) on ‘Women’s empowerment in aquaculture: case studies from Bangladesh’. This research project investigated the enabling and constraining factors associated with women’s engagement in homestead pond aquaculture production and factory-based shrimp processing.

Natasha and Kim also participated in ‘GAF 101: a training workshop on gender in fisheries and aquaculture’ organised by members of the GAF network, funded by the Thai Department of Fisheries and run by Dr Marilyn Porter (Memorial University) and Dr Holly Hapke (East Carolina University). This half-day workshop presented background information on the importance of linking to and developing theory in the social sciences – in particular, because it encourages us to ask the question ‘why’ and helps get beyond the obvious explanations to investigate the real reasons for situations and processes. ‘Gender’ was presented as a socially constructed concept which associates ‘appropriate’ behaviours and roles for men and women. Emphasis was made on moving beyond just describing the different roles of men and women – instead considering the relations and connections between men and women, and the intersection and interaction of gender with other social structures such as ethnicity, class and family. After an introduction on feminist theory, we then discussed fisheries-related case studies and considered what ‘why’ questions we should ask, the types of information needed to answer these questions, strategies which could be used to improve the situation, and the theoretical basis of these suggestions. We also participated in a GAF Network meeting with around 30 people from all over the world to review the work of the Network to date and brainstorm ideas of how to continue this work.

Participants at the Gender 101 workshop, GAF6


After the conference, Kim travelled to Kanchanaburi (north-west of Bangkok) to participate in the Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) Symposium on ‘Small-Scale Fisheries in the Asia-Pacific Region and Beyond’ (6-9 August). TBTI is a research network led by Professor Ratana Chuenpagdee from Memorial University in Canada, which includes researchers and practitioners worldwide, including from RIEL. The network was formed in 2012 with the aim of promoting the importance of small-scale fisheries to livelihoods, well-being, poverty alleviation and food security. RIEL researchers and partners have contributed to a number of TBTI publications recently published or in press. [1]

The TBTI symposium in Kanchanaburi brought together 33 researchers from 19 countries (from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America) to share experiences and ideas on various aspects of small-scale fisheries. The first two days consisted of short presentations from participants on their research activities grouped around the themes of inland fisheries, fish as food, gender in fisheries, community responses to global change and the ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries’ (published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 2015). Presentations were followed by group discussions and development of key messages and research priorities for each theme. Kim presented some background information on her PhD research on food insecurity in Timor-Leste and the local sardine fishery, and participated in discussions on ‘fish as food’. A key message and research priority identified on this theme was the need to maximise the utility of fish for human consumption by identifying and reducing fish losses along the value chain and also considering food safety.

Participants and discussions at the TBTI symposium

The final day of the symposium was a field trip to a local market and a reservoir formed by the Vajiralongkorn Dam across the River Kwai. Here, we accompanied Thai Government fisheries officers to visit a medium-sized aquaculture farm successfully established (16 years ago), owned and managed by a local woman.

TBTI field trip to local market and aquaculture farm

Kim’s accommodation, in-country travel and meals during the symposium were generously funded by TBTI. Natasha’s participation in GAF 6 was supported by the ACIAR Project Grant.


[1] These include:
Stacey, N, Steenbergen, DJ, Clifton, J & Acciaioli, G (Accepted Aug 15), ‘Understanding Social Wellbeing and values of Small Scale fisheries amongst the Sama-Bajau of insular Southeast Asia’, in Johnson, D, Acott, T, Urquart, J & Stacey, N (eds), Social Wellbeing Values of Small Scale Fisheries, MARE Series, Springer.
Prescott, J., Riwu, J., Steenbergen, D. J. and Stacey, N. (2015). ‘Governance and Governability: the small-scale purse seine fishery in Pulau Rote, eastern Indonesia’inS. Jentoft and R. Chuenpagdee (eds), Interactive Governance for Small-Scale Fisheries: Global Reflections. MARE Series, Vol 13, Springer, Switzerland. p61-84.
Prescott J. and D.J. Steenbergen, (under review), ‘Laying foundations for small-scale fisheries management: are we ignoring basic building blocks in our pursuit of excellence?’, Too Big to Ignore network, Global assessment on FAO SSF Guidelines, Springer