With pirarucu management, women generate unprecedented income in fishing

Por Clara Machado e Helder Espírito-Santo

Despite representing 47% of the global fishing workforce, women do not have the social and financial recognition they should, and fishing activities appear to be completely dominated by men. A recent scientific article led by Carolina Freitas, with the participation of other researchers from  Instituto Juruá, shows that the community management of pirarucu (Arapaima sp.) in the Amazon can be a model to reduce the recognition gap between women and men in fishing activities. Along 1500 km of the Juruá River, 143 women were interviewed, and results show that pirarucu management provided an unprecedented opportunity for the inclusion of women into the fishing production chain, by remunerating them for their services rendered in fish processing. It seems obvious, right?

But it is not. In communities that do not manage pirarucu, most women are not paid for their participation in fishing activities, with only 8 out of 100 women receiving any income from fishing. In communities with pirarucu management, 77 out of 100 women are paid for their involvement in fishing activities. The average female income in communities with management is US$215, contrasting sharply with the average of zero (yes, zero!) in communities without management. This financial recognition, of course, directly implies greater autonomy and empowerment for women. However, the potential effects of this change go far beyond. Studies indicate that this can have direct positive impacts on improving health, food security and quality of life for entire families.

The article, entitled “Resource co-management as a step towards gender equity in fisheries”, and published in the journal Ecological Economics is part of the PhD thesis by Carolina Freitas, which was awarded the prize for best thesis in Ecology at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), last year.

Photo by Carolina Freitas

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