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Gender Inclusive Resource Management

Gender and Fisheries - Strengthening community-based management of inshore fisheries towards gender equity in Solomon Islands
Project leader
Anne-Maree Schwarz
1 Nov 2010
31 Jul 2013
Rural women play a critical but often undervalued role in fishing-reliant families and communities in Solomon Islands. Ranging from direct activities of collecting, processing, preparing and marketing of fish and other marine resources; women also have an indirect influence through household management in accounting for how many fish are supplied to the household. Pivotally women also have the main responsibility for educating young children about food collection, preparation and management. This extends to passing on their knowledge on resource use and traditional management. 
Studies have shown that Melanesian fisherwomen play a significant role in the total annual exploitation of fisheries and thus in the consequences on the community’s reef resources. Therefore, fisheries management strategies need to take into account cultural and also gender differences relating to the impact of fishing activities and strategies and on habitats fished.
Community-based adaptive management (CBAM) of marine resources is now supporting more than 113 locally managed marine areas in Solomon Islands. For long term success, CBAM, including maintaining sustainable catch rates in the community’s fishing grounds, must take into consideration habitats that are targeted by fishermen and/or by fisherwomen, as well as the major objectives of their fishing activities, i.e. subsistence or commercial interests. If the role of meeting subsistence needs is strongly associated with women’s fin-fishing activities, closures and restrictive measures need to take into consideration their limitations in time, their preference for daytime fishing, and their preferred use of gear.
Education creates the foundation
In this project groups of women and youth will be trained in the principles of marine resource management and monitoring, thereby supporting the teams of men who are currently largely shouldering these duties. They will also learn techniques for information dissemination to other women and youth groups in their own and neighbouring communities.
Alternative marine livelihoods options targeted at women and youth will be identified and tested before being integrated into community based management plans. Diversification of livelihood strategies has proven to be important for rural households as a form of insurance against natural disasters. These activities might include sponge culture, mangrove replanting/management, and alternative fishing techniques.
The number of provincial and national government officers in the sector who are able to undertake gender analysis and to conduct awareness programmes in the provinces on the roles that women and youth can play in the management of marine resources will be increased. This will help ensure that gender is mainstreamed into the inshore fisheries management sector.
The expected outcome of this project is that adaptive management will be improved as women and youth contribute their knowledge and skills. Management of resources of particular interest to women (e.g., mangrove fruits, mangrove shells, mangrove wood, near shore reef fish) will be better represented in management plans. The inclusion of youth ensures a continuity of community-based resource management practices, as well as acknowledging the greater potential to change gender relations (in the form of norms, behaviour and attitudes) between young women and men.
Long term positive outcomes for the community will include improved food security, health benefits (through continued access fresh fish and marine resources) and increased adaptive capacity in the face of external shocks such as climate change.