GENDER AND SMALL-SCALE FISHERIES IN THE CENTRAL PHILIPPINES
DANIKA LYNN KLEIBER
BSc, Tufts University, 2002
MSc, The University of British Columbia, 2008
A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES
(Resource Management and Environmental Studies)
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
© Danika Lynn Kleiber, 2014
This dissertation provides new evidence for why women should be included in small-
scale fisheries assessments. Women are commonly overlooked in fisheries science and
management because they are assumed not to fish, or to fish very little. My research
focuses on community-based managed fisheries in the Central Philippines. I begin with a
literature review of women’s fishing around the world, revealing that it is common,
diverse, and dynamic. Women fishers also often focus on species and habitats different
from those in men’s fishing. Notably, however, the review also identified a considerable
data gap in quantitative assessments of women’s fishing.
I designed my case study specifically to quantify women’s contributions to the total
community catch and effort. I found that women – who totaled 42% of all fishers –
generated about one quarter of the total fishing effort and of the catch biomass. Explicit
consideration of women’s fishing cast a spotlight on gleaning, an overlooked fishing
method in which animals are collected in intertidal habitats. Almost all the women and
half of the men gleaned. I found that gleaning primarily targeted sessile invertebrates,
and was an important source of food, particularly when other fishing was not available.
Marine management that affects gleaners – such as no-take marine protected areas
(MPAs) placed in intertidal areas – needs to consider distinct ecological and social
features of gleaning. On that basis, I used a gender lens to examine community-based
management in the form of no-take MPAs. In this cultural context resource management
is a male sphere, both in perception and in practice. Women were less likely to feel that
the MPA had a positive effect on their fishing, with MPAs mostly identified as a
management measure for finfish. Women were also less likely to participate actively in
In summary, my focus on women should prompt reexamination of how fishing is
defined, who counts, and who is counted. Integration of women’s issues into fisheries
management requires attention to gleaning, and exploration of alternative management
methods. To overlook women, however, creates substantial underestimation of fishing
labour and catch – with consequent worsening of our prospects for fisheries management
Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 found in this thesis have been published in peer-reviewed
journals. The references in order are as follows:
Kleiber, D., Harris, L.M., and Vincent, A.C.J. 2014. Gender and small-scale fisheries: a
case for counting women and beyond. Fish and Fisheries. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12075
Kleiber, D., Harris, L.M., and Vincent, A.C.J. 2014. Improving fisheries estimates by
including women’s catch in the Central Philippines. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and
Aquatic Science. 71: 1–9.
Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 are in preparation for submission.
I am the senior author on all papers, and with the exception of Chapter 4, my co-authors
are Leila M. Harris and Amanda C. J. Vincent. In Chapter 4 I am the sole author. I took
primary responsibility for the research contained in the papers including the design, data
collection, analysis, and all data used in Chapters 3-5 was original data I collected in the
field. Dr. Leila Harris and Dr. Amanda Vincent contributed their expertise and advice
with ideas, research design, funding for preliminary field research, research facilities and
connections, as well as guidance and edits that helped structure the papers. Further
details of co-authorship contributions to the research questions in each paper are outlined
Chapter 2 – The idea for a review of the gender and fisheries literature was developed by
Dr. Leila Harris and myself. I did the literature review, coding and developed and
implemented the analysis. I wrote the manuscript and it was edited by Dr. Leila Harris
and Dr. Amanda Vincent.
Chapter 3 – I developed the ideas for a focus on the characterization and quantification of
women’s fishing with Dr. Amanda Vincent and Dr. Leila Harris. I came up with the
original idea to also examine the contribution of overlapping categories of gleaners and
part-time fishers. I collected and analyzed all the data, and wrote the manuscript. The
manuscript was edited by Dr. Leila Harris and Dr. Amanda Vincent.
Chapter 4 – I developed the idea to examine the economic and food security
contributions of gleaning fisheries, and to model the social and biophysical attributes of
gleaners. I collected and analyzed all the data, and wrote the manuscript. The manuscript
was edited by Dr. Leila Harris and Dr. Amanda Vincent.
Chapter 5 – Dr. Amanda Vincent came up with the original idea to examine the role of
gender in community-based management of marine protected areas. I developed the
research design and carried out the research, analysis and writing. The manuscript was
edited by Dr. Leila Harris and Dr. Amanda Vincent.
This research received Human Ethics (H10-00823) approval from UBC.
Table of Contents
Abstract .................................................................................................................... ii
Preface .................................................................................................................... iv
Table of Contents .................................................................................................... vi
List of Tables .......................................................................................................... ix
List of Figures .......................................................................................................... x
Acknowledgements ................................................................................................. xi
Dedication ............................................................................................................. xiii
1. Introduction .......................................................................................................... 1
Context ............................................................................................................................ 1
Approaches ..................................................................................................................... 5
Research questions .......................................................................................................... 5
Thesis outline .................................................................................................................. 6
Case study context and collaborations ............................................................................ 7
Case study data collection .............................................................................................. 8
2. Gender and small-scale fisheries: a case for counting women and beyond ...... 13
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 13
Gender and small-scale fisheries – global review ........................................................ 15
Research context ................................................................................................................... 15
Case study literature review methods ................................................................................... 16
Case study review findings ................................................................................................... 17
Gender differences in small-scale fishing ............................................................................ 18
Social context for gender differences in small-scale fishing ................................................ 20
Variations in gender differences in small-scale fishing ........................................................ 22
How gender applies to ecosystem approaches to fisheries ........................................... 24
Gender and connected fisheries ............................................................................................ 24
Gender, invertebrates and MPAs .......................................................................................... 26
Why aren’t women included? ....................................................................................... 27
Limiting definition of fishers and fishing ............................................................................. 27
Missing gender as key variable and gender biased sampling methods ................................ 29
Gender evaporation .............................................................................................................. 31
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 32
3. Improving fisheries estimates by including women’s catch in the Central
Philippines ......................................................................................................... 41
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 41
Methods ........................................................................................................................ 44
Study area ............................................................................................................................. 44
Adult survey and interviews ................................................................................................. 45
Catch weight estimation ....................................................................................................... 47
Catch measurements ............................................................................................................. 48
Statistical analysis ................................................................................................................ 48
Proportion of respondents in different fishing activities ...................................................... 50
Who fishes? .......................................................................................................................... 51
Catch weight and effort by gender ....................................................................................... 51
Animals targeted by fishing methods ................................................................................... 52
Discussion ..................................................................................................................... 52
Gender and the quantification of small-scale fisheries ......................................................... 53
Gender and ecosystem-based management .......................................................................... 54
Gender and data collection ................................................................................................... 56
4. The invisible walking fishers: gleaning as an important form of marine
exploitation ........................................................................................................ 66
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 66
Methods ........................................................................................................................ 69
Study area ............................................................................................................................. 69
Interview respondent selection ............................................................................................. 70
Reported catch biomass, use of catch, and change in catch ................................................. 71
Calculation of the edible weight and economic value of reported catch .............................. 72
Children’s participation ........................................................................................................ 73
Maximum fishing distance ................................................................................................... 74
Individual, household and community level factors ............................................................. 74
Statistical analysis ................................................................................................................ 76
Who gleans? ......................................................................................................................... 78
Gleaning effort ..................................................................................................................... 78
Children’s participation ........................................................................................................ 79
Use of catch .......................................................................................................................... 79
Distance of fishing trips ........................................................................................................ 80
Catch consistency and change .............................................................................................. 80
Discussion ..................................................................................................................... 81
Economic and livelihood strategies ...................................................................................... 82
Food security ........................................................................................................................ 84
Gleaning catch threats and management .............................................................................. 85
Conclusion ............................................................................................................................ 87
5. Gender and Marine Protected Areas: A case study of Danajon Bank, Philippines
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 98
Methods ...................................................................................................................... 102
Study area ........................................................................................................................... 102
Management institutions .................................................................................................... 103
Data collection .................................................................................................................... 103
Statistical Analysis ............................................................................................................. 105
Fisheries and MPAs ............................................................................................................ 106
Attitudes to MPAs .............................................................................................................. 106
Participation in MPA management .................................................................................... 107
Observations of resistance .................................................................................................. 108
Discussion ................................................................................................................... 109
Chapter 6 - Conclusion ........................................................................................ 119
Key questions .............................................................................................................. 119
Gender and fisheries ................................................................................................... 122
Broader implications and research directions ............................................................. 126
Bibliography ........................................................................................................ 129
Appendix - Fisher interview questions and data sheets ....................................... 147
List of Tables
Table 2.1. Global case studies summary of participation in fishing by gender and method.
Table 3.1. Sample size for data collection by method in each community with estimates
of residents and fisher populations. .......................................................................... 58
Table 3.2. Description of fishing methods used. .............................................................. 59
Table 3.3. Proportion of resident fishers and population sex ratio. .................................. 60
Table 3.4. Estimation of mean individual weekly catch weight, effort, CPUE, and
population weekly catch weight and effort. .............................................................. 60
Table 4.1. Explanatory variables used in mixed-effects model. ....................................... 88
Table 4.2. Edible yield of invertebrate species ................................................................. 89
Table 4.3. Monetary value of catch by species category .................................................. 90
Table 4.4. Levels of food insecurity ................................................................................. 90
Table 4.5. Measures of Material Wealth .......................................................................... 90
Table 4.6. Summary of Mix-Effect Models..................................................................... 91
Table 4.7. The proportional contribution of gleaning to the total weekly catch in six
different categorizations of catch. ............................................................................ 91
Table 4.8. Proportion of gleaning and non-gleaning fishing methods with calculated
change in CPUE. ....................................................................................................... 92
Table 5.1. Four logistic mixed effect models examining 1) the perceived effect of MPAs
on personal fishing, 2) if respondents would recommend MPAs to other
communities, 3) participation and 4) active participation in community meetings.
List of Figures
Figure 2.1. Map of reviewed case studies ........................................................................ 36
Figure 2.2. Frequency of data types presented in case studies ......................................... 38
Figure 2.3. Gender and types of animal caught ................................................................ 39
Figure 2.4. Gender and habitats used for fishing. ............................................................. 40
Figure 3.1. Study communities in the Central Philippines. .............................................. 61
Figure 3.2. The proportional participation of women and men fishers ............................ 62
Figure 3.3. Distribution of the proportional estimated total weekly catch weight by
fishing effort, and distribution of the proportion of fishers by fishing effort. .......... 63
Figure 3.4. The estimated weekly catch weight of women and men from five different
fishing method categories. ........................................................................................ 64
Figure 3.5. Mean catch by animal category of five fishing methods ............................... 65
Figure 4.1. Fishing tracks with the maximum distance calculation method illustrated. .. 93
Figure 4.2. Standardized coefficients of logistic model of gleaners and linear model of
gleaning effort ........................................................................................................... 94
Figure 4.3. Proportion of children that participate in gleaning and non-gleaning fishing
over four age categories ............................................................................................ 95
Figure 4.4. Catch biomass sold and unsold by catch type categories. .............................. 96
Figure 4.5. Reported reasons for change in catch volume. ............................................... 97
Figure 5.1. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Does the MPA
have an impact on your fishing? Why or why not? ................................................ 116
Figure 5.2. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Would you
recommend an MPA to other communities like yours? Why or why not? ............ 117
Figure 5.3. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Do you
participate in MPA meetings? Why or why not? ................................................... 118
First thanks go to Drs. Amanda Vincent and Leila Harris for their support and
encouragement throughout my PhD. I have learned so much, and have been very grateful
for the opportunity you have given me to combine my love of feminism and science.
Thanks also to Dr. John Reynolds and Dr. Nora Angeles for being excellent committee
members and for keeping me on track.
The following institutions provided financial support: the University of British Columbia
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, the Liu Institute, and the
Biodiversity Research Centre the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of
Canada, the International Federation of University Women, the Zoological Society of
London, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Palau International Coral Reef Center.
This work would not have been possible without the dedication of team Wasay-wasay:
Kristina Pahang, Bernie Calinajan, Jay Estrella, Venice Lazo, and Aileen Montejo.
Thank you for everything you patiently taught me, and the fun you brought to my time in
the Philippines. Daghang salamat! Thanks also to Angie Nellas, Mia Apurnado, Hazel
Panes, Alfie Bartolo, Dumalagan Jong, and Ate Elac. You helped me in so many ways
when your plates were already overflowing. This research also couldn’t have been done
without the help and cooperation of the mayors, barangay captains, and the residents of
the Danajon Bank communities where this research took place. You have my utmost
respect and appreciation.
Jenny Selgrath and Kerrie O’Donnell, you have been wonderful mentors through the
process of fieldwork. I love working with both of you and I look forward to doing so in
the future. Thank you for all the cheerleading. Cynthia Morinville, you helped me when I
most needed it. Thank you. I’d also like to thank the students and post docs who have
helped me in innumerable ways: Dr. Jonathan Anticamara, Lindsay Aylesworth, Kyle
Gillespie, Dr. Iain Caldwell, Elizabeth Koryoo Dapaah, Dr. Emily Darling, Dr. Cecilia
Roa Garcia, Dr. Eli Guieb, James Hehre, Dr. Nick Hill, Tíng-Chūn Kūo, Julia Lawson,
Dr. Phil Malloy, Andrea Marston, Margaret Morales, Dr. Marivic Pajaro, Megan Peloso,
Lucy Rodina, Rosie Simms, Marjorie Sorensen, and Dr. Crystal Tremblay. The Project
Seahorse team has also patiently listened to my work throughout the years. Thank you
Gina Bestbier, Tarah Brachman, Chrissy Czembor, Melissa Evanson, Scott Finestone,
Sarah Foster, Heather Koldewey, Christie Michailopoulos, Tuya Ocher, Tyler Steim, and
Mai Yasué. Emily Drummond, Anne Bjorkman, Hannes Dempewolf, Dan Van Aswegen,
Amanda Brown and Beth Volpov I know you’ve got my back and you are always good at
reminding me that there’s a big beautiful world out there beyond my thesis (and that it
contains delicious tacos). Thanks also to Dr. Janelle Curtis, Dr. Emily Gonzales, and Dr.
Karen Mason for their sage advice. Laura Tremblay-Boyer thanks for the R code, and
thank you Adrienne Berchtold, Ellen Hayes, and Nicole Straughan for generously
volunteering your time. Chapters 2, 4 and 5 contain your efforts.
Acknowledgements would not be complete without giving thanks to my wonderful
family. Mum, Dad, Michael, Eleanor, Gabe, Margot, and Rosemary. You make my world
a joyous place to be. And finally endless thanks and love to my life partner and all
around wonderful human being Adam. Thank you for riding this roller coaster with me. I
can’t wait for the next adventure.
I dedicate this thesis with love and countless thanks to Drs. Nancy and Pierre Kleiber,
the feminist anthropologist and fisheries biologist, who, with good humor and much
patience raised a feminist fisheries scientist
Gender is a key variable when examining natural resource use and management. This is
in part because women and men often interact with the natural environment in different
ways. How researchers and agencies have approached and engaged with the gender and
environment nexus has evolved over time (Elmhirst and Resurreccion 2008). The
examination of the intersection of gender and natural resources began in the 1970’s and
1980’s, influenced in part by the UN women’s decade (1975-1985), which highlighted
the absence of women in global development programming. Later influence in the 1990’s
came from concerns about environmentally sustainable development, exemplified by the
United National Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (1992).
International and national policies and programs related to gender, development and the
environment were heavily influenced by the objectives derived from these meetings.
Work related to gender and fisheries has gone through a similar trajectory starting with a
focus on women and broadening to incorporate the interactions between women and men
using gender approaches within specific cultural contexts (Walker and Robinson 2009),
as well as including cultural and political context (Resurreccion and Elmhirst 2008).
Documentation of women’s fishing is largely in small-scale fisheries contexts. Small-
scale fisheries – frequently characterized as multi-method, multi-species fisheries – are a
key source of food and livelihood throughout the world, but are vastly underreported.
Small-scale fisheries continue to be unaccounted for in national fisheries statistics,
resulting in severe underestimations of catch weight and fishing effort (Zeller et al. 2007;
Metuzals et al. 2010). The quantification and characterization of small-scale fisheries
using traditional fisheries assessment methods are hindered by 1) a lack of research
capacity (McCluskey and Lewison 2008), and 2) the diversity of fishing strategies in
complex ecosystems (Andrew et al. 2007). Small-scale fisheries may account for over
half of the catch of developing country fisheries (FAO and WorldFish Centre 2008), and
characterize up to 90% of the world’s fishers (Béné et al. 2007). To overcome deficits in
data and research capacity, techniques have been developed to quantify and assess small-
scale fisheries using fisher knowledge (Neis et al. 1999; O’Donnell et al. 2010). To
account for fisheries, ecosystem, and social complexity, socio-ecological approaches to
fisheries have been developed (Pomeroy et al. 2010).
Women’s participation in small-scale fisheries has been described but rarely quantified
(Quinn and Davis 1997). Descriptions of women’s fishing challenge the notion that
small-scale fishing is exclusive to men (Weeratunge et al. 2010), but the lack of
characterization and quantification of women’s fishing – or of other minority or
marginalized groups – has consequences for the understanding and management of
small-scale fisheries. First, it accentuates the data scarcity in small-scale fisheries that
results in the underestimation of fishing effort and catch at local, national, and global
scales. Second, it overlooks specific fishing methods used, and the diversity of animals
and habitats exploited by fishers. The consequence is an incomplete understanding of the
human role in the marine ecosystem, which creates a barrier to ecosystem level
management. Finally, in a community-based management context it overlooks potential
social barriers that may hinder women and other minority groups from participation in
decision-making that nonetheless affects them.
A gender approach to fisheries fits well with ecosystem-based management and other
approaches that intentionally incorporate social and ecological understanding and work at
multiple scales. A gender approach attentive to women’s specific fishing practices
produces a more comprehensive understanding of the totality and diversity of pressures
on the marine ecosystem. Gender is a key variable to the characterization of small-scale
fisheries because women and men often fish in distinct ways, and for different reasons
(Chapman 1987). While there is a great deal of diversity in how and why women and
men fish throughout the world, women’s fishing is often found to be primarily for
subsistence use (Bliege Bird 2007).
Based on the literature available there is evidence that women’s fishing contributes to
local economies and food security. While women’s catch is often used exclusively for
subsistence, it may also have a significant economic value. For example Spain’s mostly
female mariscadoras fishery had an estimated worth of 47 million € in 2001 (European
Commission 2003). In addition, women’s catch may be an important source of protein,
and hence food security in a number of settings. In South Africa shellfish gleaned by
women supplied 8% of the annual protein consumption of one coastal community
(Hockey et al. 1988), and in a village in Fiji the gleaning efforts of 70 women were an
important source of food for between 300-500 people from low income households
(Quinn and Davis 1997). Furthermore, in the Democratic Republic of Congo women’s
fishing as a family food source was found to be particularly important to poorer families
(Béné et al. 2009). Marine management that overlooks women’s fishing may
inadvertently discount a key source of livelihood both in terms of economic and food
Any consideration of women’s roles in fishing must also consider their relationship with
fisheries management. This is particularly true with regards to community-based
management and decision-making (Aswani and Weiant 2003; Pajaro et al. 2010; Di
Ciommo and Schiavetti 2012; Clabots 2013). In fisheries management, women are often
absent because their role in fisheries is assumed to be negligible or subsidiary to that of
men (Weeratunge et al. 2010). Gender differences in fisheries labour, coupled with the
devaluation of women’s contributions or social and political barriers can lead to an
absence of women’s engagement and priorities in decision-making processes.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become a central tool in community-based fisheries
management (Jameson et al. 2002; Wood et al. 2008) with little or no reference to their
implications for women. The gender dimension of MPAs in ecological terms lies in the
often-distinct species and habitats exploited by women and men. MPAs may have
different effects (both positive and negative) on the sessile invertebrates women often
target in intertidal habitats, and men’s target species of finfish and mobile invertebrates
in subtidal habitats. The role of MPAs in conserving fish and coral is well recognized
(Halpern 2003), but the utility of the MPA as a fisheries management tool is not as clear.
This is particularly true with respect to sessile invertebrate species, for which scant
literature on MPA impacts can be found (but see Hockey and Bosman 1986; Benzoni et
al. 2006). The limited work that is available shows that MPAs can improve spill-over and
larval dispersal of fish and mobile invertebrates (Halpern and Warner 2002) but that their
main role for sessile species may lie with larval dispersal (Aswani and Weiant 2004a).
However, MPAs have been placed in intertidal habitats with the potential to displace
women and other intertidal fishers.
In this thesis I take an interdisciplinary approach to explore the implications of including
women in small-scale fisheries characterization and quantification. My research draws
from the interdisciplinary fields of fisheries science and gender studies. In both fields,
there is an explicit connection between social and ecological frameworks. Taking a
gender approach to community characterization of fisheries my research intentionally
includes women and men. Specifically, I collected gender-stratified data so that my
findings related to women’s fishing would be a part of rather than isolated from a broader
community scale characterization of fishing. I used a literature review and a case study I
conducted in the Central Philippines as my data sources. In my research I quantified and
characterized small-scale fishing practices of women and men, and further examined
fishing from livelihood and management perspectives. These investigations enabled me
to answer four main questions that form the structure of my thesis:
1. What is the current understanding of women’s participation in small-scale
fisheries from an ecological perspective, and what are the main data gaps?
2. How does the inclusion of women’s fishing change the characterization of
community-wide fishing practices and the quantification of total catch and effort?
3. What contribution does gleaning make to economic and food security aspects of
4. What role does gender play in the management of local marine resources through
community-based marine protected areas?
This thesis contains a review (Chapter 2), three chapters based on primary data collected
in the Central Philippines (Chapters 3, 4, and 5), and a concluding chapter (Chapter 6).
In Chapter 2, I conduct a literature review of the past 20 years of research documenting
women’s small-scale fisheries. In the review I include an examination of the diversity
and mutability of gender roles in small-scale fisheries, and the social contexts that shape
and govern those roles. I also identify some key data, and outline some specific biases in
data gathering that may exclude women’s fishing.
In Chapter 3, I quantify community fishing effort and catch mass stratified by gender.
This responds to a major data gap identified in Chapter 2: the dearth of quantification of
women’s fishing, I also look at the differences in catch composition for gleaners and
non-gleaning fishers to identify potential differences in targeted species groups.
In Chapter 4, I take a livelihoods approach to examine the contributions of gleaning
economically and as a source of food security. This responds to the Chapter 2 and
Chapter 3 findings that gleaning is strongly associated with women’s involvement in
small-scale fishing. I also identify key social and biophysical factors that explain
variation in the probability of being a gleaner, and individual gleaning effort.
In Chapter 5, I examine the management context of gender and small-scale fisheries by
exploring the perceived effects of the MPA on women and men’s fisheries and why
women and men do or do not participate in community-based management of their MPA.
In the conclusion I discuss the implications of gender analysis for small-scale fisheries
and their management.
Case study context and collaborations
My field study research took place in the Northern Bohol section of the Danajon Bank in
the Central Philippines. The Danajon Bank region consists of many small communities
on atolls but is also generally extended to refer to the coastal communities situated in
larger terrestrial islands off the Bohol mainland. Poverty and food insecurity is prevalent
throughout the Visayas region (Guieb 2008; Fabinyi 2012). Overfishing and destructive
fishing activities have put tremendous pressure on the marine ecosystems in this context
(Christie et al. 2006). Marine management is decentralized to municipal and community
levels – the latter are called barangays – (Lowry et al. 2005) and often focuses on marine
protected areas (MPAs).
Fishing is often characterized as something only men participate in, but women have
been documented fishing in this region (Guieb 2008; Clabots 2013), as well as elsewhere
in the Philippines (Illo and Polo 1990; Siar 2003). Fisheries and marine conservation
assessments have given much greater attention to the fishing practices of men (Green et
al. 2004). Previous anthropological studies in this area found that women were primarily
gleaners in intertidal habitats, while men typically fished in subtidal habitats by diving or
using nets, hooks, or traps (Guieb 2008).
I worked in 12 communities: six communities with MPAs that overlapped with gleaning
areas (intertidal habitat), and six communities with MPAs separated from gleaning areas
(only subtidal habitat). All MPAs were actively managed by the community. Long-term
research related to the creation and protection of MPAs in this area has focused on fish
abundance and biodiversity and coral cover, and has only just expanded to include macro
invertebrates as well.
Project Seahorse – my research home – has worked in the Danajon Bank region since
1993. Its Philippines activities evolved into a local conservation NGO, Project Seahorse
Foundation for Marine Conservation (PSF), which has worked in Danajon Bank
communities since 2003. PSF supported my research by providing connections to the
local community, rich advice on approaches and issues, and access to facilities and
equipment. In turn, the results of my study were presented back to PSF and the study
communities to inform ongoing management practices and conservation activity.
This study area offered an excellent opportunity to conduct gender and small-scale
fisheries research. Its history of MPAs and community-based management also provided
a context in which to explore gender and marine management. The few previous studies
of gender as it relates to fisheries and management in the Philippines illustrate the human
dimensions of fisheries through ethnography and the study of ecological knowledge (Illo
and Polo 1990; Siar 2003; Fabinyi 2007). My focus, in contrast, is on quantitative
assessments and characterization of fisheries. My research has allowed me to explore the
implication of a gender approach to the characterization and quantification of small-scale
fisheries, and examine the implications for our understanding of livelihood and
Case study data collection
To characterize small-scale fisheries, fishers, and management a number of different data
collection methods were used. I worked with 4 local biologists; so all interactions were
conducted in the native language of Cebuano. All methods and interviews were tested,
and practiced during a weeklong training session prior to data collection.
1) Survey of women and men (16+ years old)
In each of the 12 communities we gained permission from the community leaders to
access the community census data. The community census is recorded every year by
community health workers. The census is organized by neighborhood and household
with the name, age and gender of each person. Non-resident relatives are often included.
The census was mostly handwritten in notebooks, so we transferred the data by first
taking photographs of each page, then entering codes related to the page and line of each
adult in the community into an excel spreadsheet. Women and men from each
community were listed separately, resulting in 24 lists. Each list was randomized
separately. The "rand" command - which generates a random number - was used in the in
the adjacent cell of each coded individual. The list was then sorted by the corresponding
random number, and the codes at the top of the list were translated back into names of
respondents in the photographed census pages.
We defined community as people that lived as residents of the community for the
majority of the year. Initially we wished categorize randomly selected respondents as
either fishers or non-fishers. However the community census included large numbers of
family members that were no longer residents, with the result that the population size and
sex ratio of residents was not accurately reflected in the community census. To generate
accurate population sizes, sex ratios, and number of female and male fishers in each
community the randomly selected respondents (752 women, 755 men) were categorized
as either 1) resident fishers (they had taken wildlife from the ocean in the last year), 2)
resident non-fisheries, or 3) non-residents (Chapter 3). Most randomly selected
respondents were asked directly, but in the case of non-residents, we determined their
status by asking a key informant (typically the barangay health worker or other
2) Fishing interviews
Among the survey respondents that were resident fishers we interviewed 25 women and
25 men in each community regarding their fishing activities. The interviews were semi-
structured and began with demographic variables such as age, gender, material wealth,
and food security (Chapter 3, 4, and 5). Respondents were then asked questions about
their fishing methods, and their typical effort and catch size (see Caltex measures for
more details on estimations of catch weight). They were asked to provide the same catch
and effort information, but to recall it from when the year they first started using that
particular fishing method (Chapter 4). They were also asked if they had ever experienced
catching nothing (kg=0) (Chapter 4). Other details pertaining to fishing included how
they typically used their catch (proportional allocation to retaining for food, selling, or
other uses), and the top 6 animals they caught (Chapter 4). We also asked open-ended
questions about change in catch size and composition, and the perceived reasons for any
reported changes. Other open-ended questions at the end of the interview discussed
gender roles in fishing (Chapter 3), management of fisheries in general, and the marine
protected areas in particular (Chapter 5).
3) Household interviews
Among the survey respondents that were resident fishers we interviewed 10 women and
10 men in each community regarding their household activities (these were not the same
respondents interviewed about fishing). Respondents listed all household members, their
gender, their age, and if they gleaned or participated in other types of fishing (Chapter 4).
Other questions were asked regarding household division of labour, time management,
and household decision making, but the data generated was not included in this thesis.
4) Direct catch measures and spatial monitoring
In each community we opportunistically measured the catch from gleaning and other
fishing trips. Each animal in the catch was identified by local classification and where
possible individually weighed (Chapter 3). If the animal was sold the price was noted
(chapter 4). The fisher was asked how many hours the trip had taken and how many
people had participated. In smaller number of cases fishers were asked to carry a GPS
unit with them while they fished. This produced 128 tracks of fishing trips (Chapter 4).
5) Caltex measures
When reporting fish catch fishers typically used kilograms, but when reporting
invertebrate catch fishers were more likely to estimate catch size by the number of Caltex
or one-liter containers they were able to fill. We created a conversion factor of Caltex to
kilograms by taking the exact weight of the contents of mixed and single species shells of
229 Caltex containers, and found the average to be 1.012kg (±0.012 SE; Chapter 3).
6) Edible yield (EY) measures
In Chapter 3 catch mass was estimated as the whole animal, but in Chapter 4 catch is
characterized by it's use as food, hence the edible mass is a more appropriate measure.
We measured the total and edible weight and calculated the mean EY of 28 of the most
commonly caught gastropods, bivalves, crabs, and urchins (Table 4.2). We also randomly
sampled 20 animals from each species, and used them to calculate the mean and standard
deviation of each animal category for cases where species specific EY was not available.
The categories were 1) bivalves, 2) gastropods, 3) urchins, 4) crabs, 5) shells (both
bivalves and gastropods in the rare cases where the animal was not identified as one or
the other; Chapter 4).
7) Key informant interviews
In each community we interviewed community leaders and employees (barangay captain,
barangay health workers, police officers etc.) about community participation in fisheries,
the history of the marine protected area, and the current management of the marine
protected area (Chapter 5).
8) Direct observation
In each community the researcher and team also directly observed community life,
paying particular attention to fishing related activities. Direct observation was also
included in interviews through observational notes at the end of each interview.
2. Gender and small-scale fisheries: a case for counting women and
This paper demonstrates the importance of gender analysis for rigorous and
comprehensive understanding of small-scale fisheries in the marine ecosystem. Most
small-scale fisheries data is limited in its application at an ecosystem level because
certain fishers and fisheries, particularly women fishers and the fisheries they participate
in, are frequently overlooked in data collection. The fact that they are overlooked is often
embedded in biased sampling methods. The exclusion of women and gender analysis
from small-scale fisheries research results in an underestimation of human catch, and
also an underestimation of the diversity of animals and habitats targeted by fishers.
Furthermore it impedes a broader socio-ecological understanding of fisheries that links
human social systems to the marine environment.
A gender approach to fisheries aligns with emerging ecosystem approaches that
intentionally work at the intersection of social and ecological systems (Arkema et al.
2006; Hall-Arber et al. 2009; Garcia 2010). The importance of gender analysis to
fisheries social systems such as food security, and livelihood, has been reviewed
(Weeratunge et al. 2010; Williams 2010; Harper et al. 2013), but a synthesis of the
application of gender approaches to ecological understanding of marine ecosystems is
still needed. Our discussion here offers an analysis to fill this gap, providing a review and
assessment of why gender relevant data is often still missing in fisheries research, and
how these gaps might be closed.
We focus on small-scale fisheries—characterized as dynamic multi-method, multi-
species fisheries that occur throughout the world (Béné et al. 2007). Our interest in
elaborating the importance of a gender approach for improved ecological understanding
leads us to focus on small-scale fisheries for at least two reasons. First most fishers are
small-scale fishers. Up to 90% of the world’s fishers are in the small-scale sector (Béné
et al. 2007). Secondly, the diversity of methods used, species targeted, and the use of
catch characteristic of small-scale fisheries mean that gender differences in fishing
practices may be much more evident in these settings.
To examine the importance of gender approaches to ecological understanding of small-
scale fisheries we analyze the past two decades of original small-scale fisheries research
and build on key reviews that have given the current state of knowledge and outlined
avenues for future research (Bennett 2005; Walker and Robinson 2009; Weeratunge et
al. 2010; Williams 2010; Harper et al. 2013). We outline common patterns found in
varied geographic examples, and detail the diversity and the adaptability of how women
and men fish. Building on this base, we offer a discussion of how gender approaches to
small-scale fisheries are crucial to improve our understanding of the human role in
marine ecosystems, and taking marine protected areas as an example, explore how this
understanding relates to fisheries management. Finally we explore how specific fisheries
research methods may fail to collect relevant gender data and contribute to a data gap in
women’s fisheries and comprehensive ecosystem level understanding. This article
reveals that gender approaches contribute to recent trends and novel directions in
fisheries science and marine conservation.
Gender and small-scale fisheries – global review
In the past two decades there has been an increasing, if still relatively small,
representation of gender approaches in fisheries literature and policy. Men’s fishing
practices and their role in fishing communities and economies are far more likely to be
documented than women’s, creating a bias in the data used to make management
decisions, and a barrier to approaching fishing practices from a gender perspective
(Matthews 2002; Bennett 2005). While gender approaches go beyond the study of
women, the overall lack of data on women and women’s fishing practices often means
that there is insufficient baseline data or potential for comparative analysis. Recent
reviews have rightly pointed out that an expanded socio-ecological view of fisheries
further justifies the need to include gender as a key variable in our understanding of the
fishing communities and economies as women participate and often dominate many
aspects of the fisheries production chain (Bennett 2005; Weeratunge et al. 2010;
Williams 2010; Harper et al. 2013). For instance, to better reflect the role of the
production chain into our understanding of fisheries, sustainable livelihood approaches
have been presented as an appropriate research and management framework (Bennett
2005; Weeratunge et al. 2010). Similar to an ecosystem approach, livelihood approaches
often incorporate both social and ecological factors in the assessment of livelihoods, and
provides explicit recognition of gender and other social variables (Allison and Ellis
While several recent reviews have detailed key data gaps in our understanding of the
social and economic aspects of fisheries, they have been less explicit about the role of
gender for ecological process understanding. Providing some insights towards this end,
Weeratunge et al. (2010) point out the data gap with respect to the role of gender in the
acquisition of marine ecological knowledge, while Harper et al. (2013) emphasize
women’s ecological knowledge as an untapped resource in data poor systems. We build
on the work of these previous efforts by expanding more explicitly on the relevance of
gender sensitive approaches and data to key ecological components of fisheries science
Case study literature review methods
We identified the primary literature by searching for original research published between
1992 and 2012 (searching the Web of Knowledge database for articles containing the
keywords “gender” OR “women” AND “fisheries”). With no limits on methods of data
collection used or geographic focus of the work, we identified 32 peer-reviewed articles
that described small-scale fisheries. Examination of references produced a further 16 peer
reviewed articles and 5 book chapters. Finally we included research conducted or
published by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF), the
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the proceedings of Global Symposiums
on Gender and Fisheries from 1998 to 2011, producing 30 more articles. In cases where
data specific to gender and fisheries was reported in multiple related articles, the peer-
reviewed article, or the latest among them, was chosen.
Small-scale fisheries was defined broadly as it is often very context dependent. Many
factors including gear type, boat size, habitats exploited, use of catch, and identity of
fishers can play a role in the characterization of the scale of fisheries. For the purposes of
this review we automatically included all fisheries described as artisanal, subsistence,
non-boat, non-motorized, and single occupant boat fisheries. In the small selection of
case studies that did describe commercial fisheries with multi-crew boats, we examined
the manuscript for characterizations of the fisheries as small-scale by the authors. We
included all studies that used the descriptor “small-scale”, but also other descriptors such
as “family owned”, “in-shore”, and “small boat” which were used in the text to
distinguish the fisheries of their study from large-scale fisheries. We did exclude
fisheries defined solely as “recreational”.
Case study review findings
The case studies provide examples from a diversity of cultural and ecological contexts
(Figure 2.1). While the map representing research sites is geographically diverse, the fact
that data are often unavailable means that this is not a comprehensive geographic
representation of women’s participation in fishing. In particular the sparse number of
examples from Europe and North America may be due to the roots of gender and
fisheries research in the field of development, which is primarily focused on developing
country contexts (Walker and Robinson 2009). Our deliberate inclusion of literature from
regionally specific institutions such as the SPC, and the Global Symposium on Women
and Fisheries as part of the Asian Fisheries Forum also gave greater representation to the
Asian and Pacific regions. There were many detailed studies of gender and fisheries in
North American and European contexts, but they rarely described women’s fishing
practices and instead focused on women’s role in processing, or on-shore management.
Gender roles in fishing were most commonly described in terms of methods, animals
targeted, and habitats used. These descriptions highlight that women and men often
interact with different parts of the marine ecosystem. However, quantitative measures
commonly used in fisheries science such as biomass of catch and catch per unit effort
(CPUE) were not commonly reported (Figure 2.2). In fisheries science, questions related
to fishing pressure rely on the quantification of catch and effort and these are addressed
far less frequently in the gender literature, representing a considerable gap in our
understanding. The description rather than quantification of women’s fishing may be due
to the assumption that women’s fishing is supplemental and hence negligible in terms of
overall human pressure on the marine ecosystem (Quinn and Davis 1997). The lack of
quantification may also be due to trends in gender research which have increasingly
focused on qualitative approaches to understanding power relations, rather than the
quantitative documentation of material realities of women’s and men’s lives (Porter and
Mbezi 2010). The characterization of gendered fishing practices may have also been
descriptive because it was not always central to the articles. In many instances, women’s
fishing was discussed as context for a focus on development, marine management, or
livelihoods in fishing communities. In other cases quantitative data is given, but only
focuses on women’s fisheries and so does not allow for a more comprehensive gender
analysis (de Boer et al. 2002; Ashworth et al. 2004; Fay et al. 2007). Examples of
quantitative gender data were mostly found from human ecology research (Bliege Bird
2007), and SPC studies quantifying the small-scale fisheries of Pacific Island countries
(Kronen 2004, 2008; Kronen and Vunisea 2007).
Gender differences in small-scale fishing
The literature illustrates a gender division of labour in small-scale fisheries that suggests
a common contrast between women’s near-shore gleaning for invertebrates and men’s
offshore boat fishing for finfish—a pattern first documented by Chapman (1987). In the
small number of cases where quantitative data on women and men’s fishing was
presented, men have a greater proportional representation in the number of fishers, catch
biomass, fishing effort and CPUE, but not in all fishing methods (Table 2.1). There is
often a distinction made between gleaning, the search for primarily shell species in
intertidal environments, and other types of fishing. While non-gleaning fisheries again
suggest greater male representation in fishing, for gleaning fisheries women’s
proportional representation was either greater than or roughly equivalent to that of men
in number of fishers (gleaners being a category of fishers), catch biomass, and fishing
effort, but not CPUE (Table 2.1). The quantitative data indicates that gender is an
important variable for describing participation in various types of fishing method. While
the pattern of women primarily participating in gleaning and men primarily participating
in non-gleaning fisheries emerges, it is far from universal and should not be assumed to
be true of every system, or unchangeable over time. It may also be due to the greater
representation of case studies from Asia and the Pacific.
Fishing methods are often closely linked with the animals targeted, so gender differences
are often evident in catch types. The general observation that “Shells are for women, fish
are for men” (Siar 2003) is well documented throughout the Pacific, and is a distinction
we found repeated in South Africa, Egypt, Spain, and the United States (de Boer et al.
2002; Ashworth et al. 2004; Frangoudes et al. 2008; Reedy-Maschner 2009). However,
in most case studies where catch composition was described, women and men caught
both fish and invertebrates. In the case studies that described invertebrate only fisheries,
women were more often the fishers. In contrast, in the case studies that described
vertebrate only fisheries, men were more often the fishers (Figure 2.3). Greater detail
reveals gender distinctions even in cases where men and women catch both invertebrates
and vertebrates. For example in the Philippines, while both men and women engage in
invertebrate and vertebrate fisheries, a greater proportion of women’s catch is made of
invertebrates while the inverse is true for men (Chapter 4). In different examples from
the Philippines and the Comoros Islands, women’s vertebrate fisheries concentrated on
smaller fish caught near shore while men caught larger fish offshore (Eder 2005; Hauzer
et al. 2013).
Across the data sampled, gender patterns in the types of marine fishing habitats exploited
emerged, with near-shore habitats such as estuaries, mangroves, and intertidal flats being
more frequently described as either women-only or shared spaces. Most case studies
described habitats such as reef edges or pelagic offshore to be exclusively fished in by
men (Figure 2.4). Examining the freshwater examples in greater detail also revealed
spatial distinctions. In Mexico women were described as fishing closer to home (Arce-
Ibarra and Charles 2008), and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women fished
along the shore while men fish in the deeper water mid-stream (Béné et al. 2009).
Social context for gender differences in small-scale fishing
“Gleaning shellfish is women’s major fishing activity because it can be done close to
home, takes relatively little time, require no costly fishing equipment and may be done in
the company of children” (Tekanene 2006)
“Most women do not want to be equal to men in fishing because the social rewards are
not the same for them” (Reedy-Maschner 2009)
As the Tekanene quote illustrates, women’s participation in gleaning over other forms of
fishing may be linked to the spatial and temporal limitations on their activities due to
concurrent obligations. Hence, women and men’s fishing is often shaped by broader
gender roles and as the quote from Reedy-Maschner explains, gender roles also shape the
social rewards derived from various types of fishing. In the case of women their roles
may result in limited ability to travel long or far and limited access to capital for
equipment such as a boat—both of which may narrow women’s range for fishing to near
shore habitats and species. Hence, intertidal areas may be considered as women’s fishing
space even as men and women both fish there (Siar 2003). Men’s gender roles also
mediate their fishing practices, as do other social variables such as age or poverty. For
example, in the Philippines, young men with little capital and few dependents are more
likely to engage in illegal or highly variable fishing (Fabinyi 2007). Alternatively the
established role of women as providers of daily food in the Torres Straight Islands leads
them to choose fishing methods that have a better guarantee of return, while men derive
greater social benefits from fishing for large but variable catch that is shared in the
community (Bliege Bird 2007). Women’s common obligation of household food
provision may also explain why women’s fishing catch is frequently directed for
household consumption while men may be more likely to target more commercially
valuable or culturally prestigious marine animals (Chapman 1987; Kronen 2002).
The physicality and dangers associated with certain types of fishing were also used by
respondents to explain the types of gender differentiated practices observable across
many contexts. In several case studies fear of the waves or deep water is given as an
explanation for why women do not venture off shore. For example, in Mexico men and
women used the same fishing methods, but women chose fishing grounds closer to home
which were described as safer (Arce-Ibarra and Charles 2008). Gender differences in
perceived risky behavior are a product of cultural expectations rather than biological
limitations (Porter and Mbezi 2010), and in fact in one example from Cameroon women
were the primary fishers because men expressed fears of fishing (Brummett et al. 2010).
In some cases gender divisions of labour are formalized by taboos against women in
boats (Rubinoff 1999), and limitations on women’s participation may be used as a way to
limit the number of fishers and hence competition in offshore fisheries (Geheb et al.
Women’s fishing is often described as complementary to men’s, and framed within a
household livelihood strategy. For instance, in Mexico “women saw their work [bait
fishing] as a source of ‘support’ for the husbands and households” (Savard and Fraga
2005). Similarly in Vanuatu women’s fishing was described as helping to “bridge the gap
in seafood supply when the active male fishers are sick or busy with other activities”
(Gereva and Vuki 2010). In many such examples, even when women’s fishing is
documented and discussed, it is represented as secondary to men’s fishing. For example
in Mali girls were described as “assisting” with fishing (Tindall and Holvoet 2008), or in
the Philippines and Palau women who fish offshore with their husbands often describe
their own work as “helping” (Matthews and Oiterong, 1992; Kleiber et al. unpublished
data). In other cases the gender of the fisher is only mentioned when the method is
female dominated (e.g. Jiddawi and Ohman 2002). In such examples, the placement of
women’s fishing as secondary suggests it is not fully integrated into the larger analysis.
Variations in gender differences in small-scale fishing
The gender division of labour in small-scale fisheries is not absolute or universal.
Instead, these divisions are diverse in ways that reflect both cultural and marine
biophysical diversity. For example, in some Oceanic communities women are forbidden
from participating in some types of fishing (Chapman 1987) while among the Btsisi’ of
Malaysia most fishing is done by opposite sex couples working together (Nowak 2008).
Paying closer attention to biophysical conditions, we see that variations and fluxes may
alter participation in certain fisheries regardless of predominant gender divisions. In the
Philippines men’s gleaning is often characterized as secondary to other forms of fishing,
but in a community with abundant intertidal habitat ideal for gleaning there was found to
be a much higher proportion of male gleaners (Guieb 2008). These variations reinforce
the need for greater attention to the cultural and biophysical context in which fishing
occurs (Walker and Robinson 2009).
Gender roles are also dynamic and historic norms may vary greatly from current
practices. In relation to fishing practices shifts in gender roles may be adaptions to
changing environmental and economic realities. Changes in the availability of particular
marine species, family economic strategies in response to poverty, commercialization of
catch, or diversification of employment opportunities may all lead to changes in how
women and men fish. For example, in French Polynesia the overfishing of shell species
led women to adopt boat fishing that had been male dominated (Walker and Robinson
2009). In other cases women’s participation in non-gleaning fisheries may be part of a
household economic strategy to maintain catch and profit within the family rather than
paying crew or needing to split profits from the catch (Reedy-Maschner 2009). As such,
women’s participation in fishing may be framed as economic necessity, also showing the
importance of poverty to these issues: “A few wives have gone to sea . . . only the poorest
of us. We have been driven into the fishing boat by necessity, as well as by a strong
wish.” (Pettersen 1996). Finally, external economic changes such as the
commercialization of specific species or diversification of employment opportunities
may also change gendered fishing practices. In Tanzania men came to dominate the
previously female dominated octopus fisheries after it had become a commercial product
(Porter and Mbezi 2010), and in the Canadian Arctic women’s increasing employment by
the government led them to fish less frequently as they were no longer able to take time
off during the fishing season (Tyrrell 2009).
How gender applies to ecosystem approaches to fisheries
“[T]he fishing enterprise is not solely undertaken by men, and cannot simply be defined
in terms of people on boats” (Reed and Christie 2008)
As we have demonstrated, women and men often fish in distinct ways, making it
inappropriate to use men as a proxy for the entire community. Here we elaborate why
these distinctions are crucial for management questions that require ecosystem level
understanding. Specifically we detail how a gender approach illuminates our
understanding of how different fisheries interact with the ecosystem and each other, and
adds important insights for evaluation of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a key
conservation and fisheries management tool.
Gender and connected fisheries
The inclusion of women’s fishing not only highlights overlooked human interaction with
specific marine species and habitats, but also illustrates the interaction between different
habitats, as well as the targeting of animals at different life stages that might otherwise be
missed. For example, gleaning in intertidal areas may have direct impacts on habitat such
as coral reefs, and seagrass beds through trampling, or overturning of the substrate. Other
human activities such as shell garden construction in intertidal areas could also create
habitat and increase species abundance. These direct interactions may also have wider
ecological impacts (Sharpe and Keough 1998).
Women’s frequent domain of intertidal habitat is an important component to
understanding the role of their fishing in the marine ecosystem, as these habitats,
including mangroves, and seagrass beds, may be particularly important for juvenile life
stages of many species. For example in El Salvador women’s estuary fishing was banned
because it was felt to “threaten offshore fishing by depleting breeding grounds”
(Gammage 2004). In other cases women’s fishing in the Philippines and Comoros
Islands was seen as detrimental to offshore fisheries because they targeted juveniles of
fish species that were of economic importance at older life stages (Eder 2005; Hauzer et
al. 2013). Indirect fishing of species as by-catch can also have multi-fisheries level
affects—such as in Bengal, India where women’s participation in river fishing was
documented to have stopped due to over-efficient fine-meshed net harvesting done by
men (Pramanik 1994). In a different example in Tanzania women octopus fishers
attributed the decline of their catch to men diving for the same species in deeper waters,
and thereby eliminating a depth refuge that may have been an important component for
the sustainablity of the fishery (Porter and Mbezi 2010). All of these examples suggest
the important ecosystem level interconnections and dynamics between different marine
extraction practices. A gender sensitive approach highlights these different practices,
helping to better consider the complex interactions among different fishing practices.
Still other important factors such as total biomass and number of fishers may be
underestimated without considering the catch of all fishers.
Gender, invertebrates and MPAs
A focus on gender highlights data gaps that hinder the inclusion of all fisheries into
ecosystem scale management. For example, the focus of many women on invertebrate
species lays bare the data gap on the management of marine invertebrates. The
management of sessile benthic invertebrates - the target species of many gleaners – is
often complicated by scarcity of life history information. In this section we will first
examine these data gaps in the context of MPAs, a very common and increasingly used
Within the MPA literature most studies of the effects of no-fishing MPAs have focused
on fish assemblages and coral health. Only recently have studies included a focus on
non-coral invertebrates and, from what we do know, the sessile characteristics of these
species make them in many ways ideal candidates for small MPAs. However, the studies
that have been done suggest mixed results. In some cases increased biomass and size of
animals inside and directly adjacent to the MPA have increased. In other cases lack of
change in size and abundance may be due to food chain interactions where closure frees
both invertebrates and their predators from human fishing pressure (Gell and Roberts
The utility of MPAs as a fisheries management measure relies on its ability to produce a
spill over of targeted species. Unlike fish, sessile invertebrates disperse during their
larval stage (Roberts and Hawkins 2000), lending increasing importance to the
consideration of ocean currents and their role in the distribution of larvae when deciding
on the placement of MPAs. This was demonstrated in the Solomon Islands when women
protected an area they felt was an important “seeding” ground for the rest of the gleaning
areas (Aswani and Weiant 2004a). It may be that the placement and management of
MPAs focused on fish species may not lead to optimal management for all fished
Invertebrates and intertidal habitats are integral parts of marine ecosystems. Invertebrates
are often keystone species, and intertidal areas can be important habitat for juveniles. To
assess the effects of MPAs and other management measures, it is important to consider a
broad range of marine species and habitats, including those commonly targeted by
women. As such, gender considerations might affect management priorities, extending
beyond fish species, and also enabling consideration of broader ecosystem dynamics that
might be critical for ecosystem health and the sustainability of fisheries.
Why aren’t women included?
As it becomes increasingly clear that women are actively engaged in fishing in many
parts of the globe, a key question is why gender specific data is still so scarce. As we
have outlined, the gender division of labour has clear implications for fisheries science
and marine conservation, but data and especially quantitative data regarding women’s
fishing practices remains limited. In this section we consider methodological approaches
commonly used in the characterization of small-scale fisheries that may perpetuate the
invisibility of women’s fishing and otherwise impede the collection of data that is both
gender relevant and more inclusive of a range of marine extractive practices.
Limiting definition of fishers and fishing
Narrow definitions of fisher and fishing often may overlook key groups of fishers. For
example, census data on occupation, which are often relied on to estimate the number of
fishers, may exclude part time labour (Teh and Sumaila 2013), or subsistence labour. As
women are often more likely to fish on a part time basis, their participation in fishing is
effectively invisible on census forms. For example, official statistics in El Salvador are
based on questionnaires that define fishers as those that fish regularly on the open sea
and own fishing gear such as a boat, and nets. They found that only 9% of women
participated in fishing; however, a more detailed study within select communities found
closer to 26% of women fished (Gammage 2004). In other cases women fishers may go
unreported in part because it is culturally unacceptable for women to fish, and in such
cases both women and men may discount or downplay women’s participation. This may
be further complicated by interacting factors of gender, social class and wealth, where
women’s participation in fishing is viewed as an indication of poverty and subsequently
shame. For example, in the Philippines many respondents expressed pity for women that
fished with their husbands. This helps to explain why women so often described their
participation as “Just helping my husband” (Kleiber, unpublished data). This
characterization may lead researchers and managers to underestimate and overlook
women’s participation. In other cases where women’s participation in fisheries is a
cultural norm, assumptions by fisheries researchers about gender division of labour may
lead them to erroneously exclude women. To unmask the participation of women in
fisheries, an understanding of local culture coupled with observational studies is
essential. This data may be more readily available in anthropological, ethnographic and
human behavioral ecology approaches, suggesting an ongoing need for interdisciplinary
evaluation of fishing practices.
Similarly, limited definitions of what counts as fishing may also overlook key fisheries.
Gleaning is often not considered as fishing per se. Because gleaning occurs in intertidal
habitats and primarily targets invertebrates, it may not be counted as a fishing method—
either in cultural terms or indeed in ‘scientific’ understandings as found in Spain where
gleaning was not included in official definitions of fishing (European Commission 2003).
However, as we have detailed, to understand fisheries from a broad ecosystemic
perspective, it is important to consider all forms of marine resource extraction, including
gleaning. This reality invites us both to reconsider some of our gender assumptions about
fishing, as well as the very definition of fishing itself.
Missing gender as key variable and gender biased sampling methods
Another tendency is for data to be collected in a way that is gender blind. Gender-neutral
words such as “fisher”, or even gender specific terms such as “fisherman” might be used
to describe women and men. It is therefore necessary to explicitly include gender as a
variable. A more general issue observable in the literature is that only data on men is
collected. This may be done intentionally, or occur unintentionally through methods that
limit respondents to only men. For example, head of household surveys or key informant
interviews that rely on political or religious leaders may result in only male respondents.
Despite being active participants in the household economics and decision makings,
women may be less likely to declare themselves as head of household (Gammage 2004).
Interviewing only or predominantly men is a key consideration in situations where the
perception of women’s fishing differs along gender lines. For instance, men may
discount or have very little interest in talking about women’s fishing activities (Chapman
1987), or may have completely opposite understandings of the gender division of labour
as was found in the Canadian Arctic: “According to Arviat men, fishing for char along
the shoreline is predominantly men’s work. According to Arviat women, it is
predominantly women’s work” (Tyrrell 2009). This also suggests the need for
complementary observational data collection. Women-only data collection similarly
limits the scale of analysis and understanding. It is often done with the explicit goal of
focusing on fishers or fisheries that have previously been overlooked and so may provide
important information. However, as with data only on men or only a single fishery, our
understanding of its role within the broader context of community fishing is limited.
The locality of the data collection may also bias the sample along gender lines. Data
collection methods often rely on centralized landing sites such as markets, ports, or fish
vendors. This may bias sampling towards men’s catch because women’s catch is often
exclusively for family consumption and does not travel through these sites making them
invisible to the researchers (e.g. Green et al. 2004). In contrast, a randomized sampling
approach of all fishing effort within communities would allow for a more comprehensive
understanding of the variety of fishing methods used, animals targeted, and use of catch.
It would also give a more accurate understanding of the total catch.
Many of these trends are exacerbated by the fact that most fisheries data collectors and
managers are men, which in certain contexts may impede the participation of women. In
many cultures it is not socially acceptable for unrelated men and women to talk to one
another and in other cases respondents may simply be more comfortable with an
interviewer of the same gender. In Nigeria, where fisheries officers were predominantly
men, women stated that they preferred talking to women officers (Adeokun and Adereti
2003). These gender gaps can have implications for data collection, misrepresentation of
the issues of importance, and can also negatively affect conservation and management
efforts. For instance in Tuvalu a trochus reintroduction program failed when the fisheries
manager neglected to discuss the plan with women who unknowingly gleaned the
introduced animals (Seniloli et al. 2002). It is also imperative to consider other social
variables such as class, ethnicity, or caste that have been found to affect data collection
Even in cases where gender is included as a variable, or as part of a management agenda,
gender has often been found to disappear - a phenomenon that has been referred to as
gender evaporation, or the loss of gender data during one or more steps of research (term
adapted from DFID 2008). Gender evaporation can occur when a gender research agenda
is added, but carried out by researchers and managers unfamiliar with and untrained in
gender research methods (Harrison 1997). For example a study of small-scale fisheries
was unable to include gender analyses, even though gender had been included as a field
in the interview. The research assistants had not been trained in gender research methods
and the fields on women’s participation were mostly left blank (S. Sayson, personal
All of these dimensions of gender bias in research and data have the effect of minimizing
women’s roles in fisheries, and also, importantly, may lead to a lessened understanding
of crucial aspects of the marine ecosystem that are more likely to be used and targeted by
women (e.g. sessile invertebrates). These illustrations, together with the growing body of
work on gender and social and economic dimensions of fisheries, demonstrate the clear
need for fisheries science to embrace gender approaches to research and a stronger
appreciation of women’s fisheries in particular as key parts of an interdisciplinary
ecosystem approach. From a management perspctive as well, it is abundantly clear that
lack of attention to women’s fishing undercuts the possibility of women being full
stakeholders in fisheries management and decision-making. We suggest that a fuller
appreciation of women’s diverse fishing roles and practices serves as a critical step to
overcome the well documented marginalization of women in fisheries related
management institutions and practices, including both international programs (Harrison
1997), as well as more localized community based management initiatives (Seniloli et al.
Without explicit consideration of the fishing patterns and practices (including changes
therein) of women and men, a considerable wealth of information is ignored. To
overcome the invisibility of women’s fishing and the barrier it poses to our full
understanding of marine ecosystems it is important to start our analyses and evaluations
with the assumption that women do fish, rather than the inverse. By beginning with this
assumption researchers can choose appropriate methods that capture the fishing practices
of all community members, and the assumption can then be adequately tested.
Overlooking women’s fishing practices can lead to data gaps in the direct and
interconnected impacts of different fisheries, perpetuate often inaccurate assumptions
about the gender division of labour in fisheries, as well as potentially underestimate the
total human pressure on the marine ecosystem. In this review we have pursued the
suggestion offered by Weeratunge and colleagues (2010) to move beyond the
increasingly recognized reality that “women do fish.” In particular, we have offered an
approach that considers women and men’s fishing practices to illustrate the importance
of gender not only for socio-economic concerns, but also to gain a more comprehensive
and robust understanding of the human role in marine ecosystems. As such, we suggest
that progress in terms of gender appraoches to fisheries and appreciation of women’s
fisheries and practices is a key dimension of realizing more inclusive socio-ecological
understandings for fisheries science and management. Our review of published case
studies that consider women’s fishing practices makes clear that the division of labour by
gender in fisheries is common, but also highlights variety and mutability of women’s and
men’s fishing practices. Our review also reveals the sparcity of gender data in general,
and quantitative data in particular. Despite these limitations it is clear that the fishing
efforts of women and men often play distict and interacting roles in the marine
ecosystem. A gender approach has considerable potential to improve our understanding
of these varied and interacting roles through greater attention and sensitivity to different
fishing methods, species caught, and areas fished. All of these dimensions are essential to
provide sound scientific advice, enriched scientific inquiry, and improved management
of marine resources. Furthermore, we have also suggested that to truly make progress
with respect to ecosystem and livelihood approaches to marine management we also need
to change the way we collect data. The implications relate to who is collecting data, how
data is collected, and even the very definition and scope of ‘fishing’ itself. Unchallenged
definitions of fishers and fishing, and biased sampling practices present significant
obstacles to ecosystem scale data collection. Being aware of these common problems in
data collection allows for more suitable and comprehensive collection, enabling higher
standards in future research.
While we have chosen to highlight the ecological elements of these debates, this is not to
ignore the importance of a gender approach for social aspects of fisheries management,
including livelihood and food security approaches. Gender aware research has
highlighted that improvements in fisheries dominated by men (both in catch and
economic gains) do not necessarily translate into improvements in household and
community level food and economic security. Subsistence catch by women may be
especially vital for family food security (Porter and Mbezi 2010). The combination of the
ecosystem dimensions with social imperatives makes the centrality of gender
perspectives to fisheries science and management undeniable.
As participatory management efforts seek to extend a role to women in fisheries
management, clearer understandings of gender specific roles in fisheries as well as the
larger fishing economy are vital. These combined realities suggest the need for serious
caution whenever we see male fisheries officers only talking to male fishers, or situations
where men speak for women related to community needs. Further to this, women’s
distinct ecological knowledge is likely to be a considerable asset to managers,
particularly in data poor systems (Harper et al. 2013). While in this review we have
emphasized fishing practices, we understand that aspects of this discussion are relevant
and potentially even more powerful when viewed with attention to larger socio-economic
and political frameworks. The inclusion of gender enables us to more accurately assess
the state of fisheries, to better understand the diverse effects of fisheries change and
management for populations, and to move towards the interdisciplinary management
models that are increasingly demanded by policy makers.
Table 2.1. Global case studies summary of participation in fishing by gender and method.
We present a proportion of case studies that measured the participation of women and
men in all fishing activities, gleaning or non-gleaning fishing activities using four
different quantitative measures. We further distinguished between cases where fishers
numbers, catch size, effort or CPUE was either found to be larger for women (F>M),
≤10% difference or described a roughly equal between women and men (F≈M), or larger
for men (F<M). The “n” represents the number of case studies the provided the data.
Some case studies presented data on all fishing, but didn’t distinguish between gleaning
and other fishing, while other studies only reported gleaning, or non-gleaning fishing
catch. Hence, the number of case studies at each category varies.
Figure 2.1. Map of reviewed case studies. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 49, 52, 55, 56, 57 & 59 (Kronen and Vunisea 2007); 3 (Kronen 2002); 3
(Kronen and Malimali 2009); 3 (Kronen and Bender 2007); 4 (Kronen 2008); 4 & 5 (Lasi and Kronen 2008); 6 (Walker and Robinson
2009); 8 (Reedy-Maschner 2009); 9 (Conway et al. 2002); 10 (Tyrrell 2009); 11 (Shannon 2006); 12 & 21 (Thiessen et al. 1992); 13
(Savard and Fraga 2005); 13 (Arce-Ibarra and Charles 2008); 14 (Gammage 2004); 14 & 32 (Crawford et al. 2010); 15 & 16 (Trimble
and Johnson 2013); 17 (Di Ciommo and Schiavetti 2012); 18 (Silva-Cavalcanti and Costa 2009); 19 (Frangoudes et al. 2008); 20
(Nightingale 2011); 20 (Zhao et al. 2013); 21 (Pettersen 1996); 22 (Göncüoğlu and Ünal 2011); 23 (Ashworth et al. 2004); 24 (Tindall
and Holvoet 2008); 25 (Iyun 1998); 25 (Akanni 2008); 26 (Brummett et al. 2010); 27 (Béné et al. 2009); 28 (Ngwenya et al. 2012); 29
(Branch et al. 2002); 30 (Kyle 1997); 30 (de Boer et al. 2002); 31 (Geheb et al. 2008); 32 (Jiddawi and Ohman 2002); 32 (Porter and
Mbezi 2010); 33 (Hauzer et al. 2013); 34 (Peterson and Stead 2011); 35 (Rubinoff 1999); 36 (Thamizoli and MSSRT Team 2004); 37
(Pramanik 1994); 38 (Ahmed et al. 1998); 38 (Sultana et al. 2002); 38 (Ahmed et al. 2010); 39 (Lim and Apong 2012); 39 (Johnson
2001); 40 (Nowak 2008); 41 (Shams and Ahmed 2000); 41 (Resurreccion 2006); 42 (Hao 2012); 43 (Ko et al. 2010); 44 (Lim et al.
2012); 45 (Israel-Sobritchea 1994); 45 (dela Pena and Marte 1998); 45 (Sotto et al. 1998); 45 (Asong et al. 2002); 45 (Siar 2003); 45
(D’Agnes et al. 2005); 45 (Eder 2005); 45 (Fabinyi 2007); 46 (Fitriana and Stacey 2012); 47 (Thorburn 2000); 48 (Matthews and
Oiterong 1992); 49 (Kronen and Tafileichig 2008); 50 (Bliege Bird 2007); 51 (Kinch 2003); 53 (Aswani and Weiant 2004a); 53
(Molea and Vuki 2008); 54 (Lambeth 2000); 55 (Tekanene 2006); 55& 58 (Fay et al. 2007); 55 (Thomas 2007); 57 (Tarisesei and
Novaczek 2006); 57 (Gereva and Vuki 2010); 58 (Quinn and Davis 1997); 58 (Kronen 2004); 58 (Kuster et al. 2005); 58 (Tawake et
al. 2007); 58 (Fay-Sauni et al. 2008); 58 (Verebalavu 2009); 59 (Sauni and Sauni 2005). (Kronen and Vunisea 2009) is not presented
here as it presents data by Oceania cultural regions.
Figure 2.2. Frequency of data types presented in case studies. The 106 case studies of
original data found in the 83 articles were each coded for the types of data they used to
describe small-scale fishing. Descriptive categories of how, what, where and when
fishers interact with the marine ecosystem were placed in the following four categories 1)
Method: gear or fishing method names, 2) Species: wild caught marine animals or plants,
and 3) Habitat: marine habitats used. Measures of fishing commonly associated with the
calculation of fishing pressure were divided into the following four categories 1) Fisher
count: number of fishers, 2) Catch size: biomass, animal count, or Kcal measured in total
or average, 3) Effort: time or frequency of fishing measured in hours, days, or weeks, and
4) CPUE: calculation of catch per unit effort both of which may vary. Finally the social
and economic importance of fishing catch as described by how it was used was placed in
the final category: Use of catch: eaten, sold, given away, used as bait. The proportion of
studies offering data related to the specific categories are presented (all case studies), as
well as a subcategory of case studies that offered data on women and men (gender
analysis). It should be noted that within the CPUE category, 73% of all studies are case
studies done by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Figure 2.3. Gender and types of animal caught. Fisheries divided into vertebrate only
(almost entirely fish, but in some cases including mammals and reptiles), invertebrate
only (including shells, arthropods, cephalopods and echinoderms), or participation in
fishing that targets all animal types. Only gender analysis case studies were included.
Figure 2.4. Gender and habitats used for fishing. The proportional distribution of case
studies (n) that describe use of fisheries habitats by gender. Only case studies that
presented data on women and men’s habitat use were included (n = 45). The number of
case studies represented by each habitat varies because not each habitat was included in
every case study.
3. Improving fisheries estimates by including women’s catch in the
Women’s participation in small-scale fisheries has been described but rarely quantified
(Quinn and Davis 1997). Descriptions of women’s fishing challenge the notion that
small-scale fishing is exclusive to men (Weeratunge et al. 2010), but the lack of
quantification of women’s fishing, and the fishing of other minority or marginalized
groups, has several consequences for the understanding and management of small-scale
fisheries. First, it accentuates the data scarcity in small-scale fisheries that results in the
local and global underestimation of fishing effort and catch (Zeller et al. 2007). Second,
it creates an incomplete understanding of the diversity of and interactions between small-
scale fishing strategies, which in turn hinders ecosystem-based management approaches.
Finally, it underestimates women’s contribution to fisheries (Mills et al. 2011), which
leads women and women’s fisheries to be invisible in the management of small-scale
fisheries and marine resources.
Small-scale fisheries may account for over half of the catch of developing country
fisheries (FAO and WorldFish Centre 2008), and characterize up to 90% of the world’s
fishers (Béné et al. 2007). And yet small-scale fisheries continue to be unaccounted for in
national fisheries statistics, resulting in severe underestimations of catch weight and
fishing effort (Zeller et al. 2007; Metuzals et al. 2010). The quantification and
characterization of small-scale fisheries using traditional fisheries assessment methods
are hindered by 1) a lack of research capacity (McCluskey and Lewison 2008), and 2) the
diversity of fishing strategies and ecosystem complexity (Andrew et al. 2007). To
overcome deficits in data and research capacity, techniques have been developed to
quantify and assess small-scale fisheries using fisher knowledge (Neis et al. 1999;
O’Donnell et al. 2010). To account for fisheries and ecosystem complexity ecosystem-
based approaches to fisheries have been developed (Pomeroy et al. 2010).
Ecosystem-based management was developed to address complex systems by focusing
on the numerous ecological and social interactions that occur in small-scale fisheries
(McLeod et al. 2005; Pomeroy et al. 2010). To identify ecological and social interactions
it is first necessary to define the species, habitats, and fishing strategies that will be
included in management (Pomeroy et al. 2010). Gender may be a key consideration for
identifying fishing strategies as women and men often have distinct and interacting roles
in small-scale fisheries (Chapman 1987; Siar 2003; Magalhães et al. 2007; Medard
2012), with women and men often targeting different marine life and habitats (Bliege
Bird 2007; Hauzer et al. 2013). Hence, if women and other minority or marginalized
groups are not included, there is a great potential to miss certain fishing strategies, and
subsequently key social and ecological interactions.
Ecosystem-based management emphasizes humans as a part of, rather than apart from,
the ecosystem and embraces the inclusion of stakeholders in the decision-making process
(McLeod et al. 2005). The challenge then becomes determining which humans and
human activities are counted and subsequently whose voices and management priorities
are included in resource management decision-making. There is a widespread
underrepresentation of women in natural resource labour statistics (United Nations
2006), and the effect of this invisibility on management and decision-making has been
widely examined in the gender and development literature (Upadhyay 2005; Vernooy
2006; Resurreccion and Elmhirst 2008; Agarwal 2009), and more specifically in the
gender and fisheries literature (Walker and Robinson 2009; Weeratunge et al. 2010). In
the gender and fisheries literature there is often an emphasis on women’s labour in catch
processing and marketing (Overå 1993; Tindall and Holvoet 2008). Including women’s
labour in the fisheries value chain fits within the aim of ecosystem-based management to
integrate ecological and socio-economic interactions (Allison and Ellis 2001; Béné et al.
2009; Weeratunge et al. 2010), but it still misses the quantification and characterization
of women fishers and their ecological interactions in the marine ecosystem.
In this study we examine how the exclusion of women and other overlooked categories
of fishers changes the quantitative assessment of small-scale fisheries at the community
scale using a case study of small-scale fisheries in the Central Philippines. Women are
known to participate in the many small-scale fisheries that prevail in the Philippines, but
quantification is rare (Siar 2003; Illo and Polo 1990). We intentionally included fishers
and fishing methods that are often overlooked in small-scale fisheries assessments, such
as women, part-time and occasional fishers, and gleaners. First we estimated the number
of women and men fishers, and examined their fishing methods. Then we quantified the
fishing effort and catch weight to compare the total contribution of women and men, and
part-time and full-time fishers. Finally we examined the types of animals targeted by
different fishing methods to characterize fishing catch. Our results have direct
implications for management as they highlight the contribution of overlooked fishers and
fisheries, as well as demonstrate the greater diversity of marine life targeted by human
To examine the contribution of women and other frequently overlooked aspects of small-
scale fisheries we examined data from surveys on the proportional participation of
women and men fishing in 12 coastal and island communities in the Central Philippines.
We gathered quantitative and qualitative data on fishing methods, catch weight, fishing
effort, and target species through individual interviews, and direct measures of catch to
characterize small-scale fisheries according to gender and fishing method.
Our study took place in the Danajon Bank region of the Central Philippines (Figure 3.1).
Communities in this region are largely ethnically homogeneous, and while there is
variation in access to material wealth, there are overall high levels of poverty (Guieb
2008). The Philippines has one of the highest per capita fish consumption rates in the
world (Yap 1999), and in the Danajon Bank marine resources are caught using small-
scale fishing practices. The Philippines is a hotspot of marine biodiversity, but the marine
ecosystem is under great fishing pressure (Carpenter and Springer 2005; Christie et al.
2006). Destructive and over-efficient fishing methods such as dynamite fishing, cyanide,
and illegal trawling occur in the Danajon Bank. Marine management in the Philippines is
decentralized, with responsibilities falling at the community and municipal levels of
governance. Ecosystem-based management is used to account for the myriad of fishing
methods used and species caught (Armada et al. 2009). Certain management measures
such as boat registration and gear restrictions are done at the municipal level. Other
management measures such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are mostly managed at
the community level with co-management assistance of local environmental NGOs
collaborating with international partners (e.g. Christie et al. 2006).
We collected data in twelve communities, representing six municipalities in the north of
Bohol province. Half of the study communities were on small islands or cayes, five were
found on much larger terrestrial islands, and one was on the mainland of the island of
Bohol (Figure 3.1).
Throughout this study we worked closely with a local conservation NGO, Project
Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation (PSF), which has worked with Danajon
Bank communities since 1996. PSF supported our research by providing connections to
the local community leaders, facilitating research permits, and providing expert input.
Adult survey and interviews
We obtained census data but were not able to use it to determine total population size or
fisher population size. Many of the people counted in the census were not currently
residing in the community, and the identification of fishers was infrequent and unreliable.
Only three communities recorded information on occupation, and within those records
only two women were recorded as fishing. We were concerned that the definitions used
to identify fishers in the census did not match our definition, which intentionally included
anyone that had gleaned or used any other fishing method during the last year.
The census data for each community was stratified by gender, and adult women and men
(here defined as anyone over the age of 16) were randomly selected using the assignment
of a random number to each respondent, which were then selected in a descending order.
We determined if randomly selected respondents (752 women, 755 men) were 1) non-
residents, 2) resident fishers, or 3) resident non-fishers by either asking them directly or
in cases where they were not available, asking a key informant (most often a Barangay
health worker or community leader). Because gleaning is not always considered a form
of fishing, respondents or key informants were asked if they had fished (pangisda) or
To characterize small-scale fishing practices in terms of methods used, fishing effort, and
catch weight, we interviewed women (n = 296) and men (n = 292) about their individual
fishing practices (Table 3.1). The interview respondents were volunteers from the
randomly selected survey respondents who had fished in the last year. In cases where a
respondent could not be found, a family member or neighbour was substituted.
Interviews from these haphazardly selected respondents were used in the calculation of
catch weight, effort, and catch per unit effort (CPUE) but were omitted from the overall
calculation of proportional participation in fishing from the survey because they were not
Fishers were asked to describe their fishing from the previous year including the fishing
methods they used, and for each method the catch weight of a typical catch, the typical
duration (in hours) of a single fishing trip, the frequency of fishing trips per week, and
the number of fishers involved. We calculated CPUE as kg x fisher hour-1. In cases
where more than one fisher participated the catch was divided by the number of
participants. This CPUE measure focuses on human effort, rather than an index of
abundance. We chose the smaller unit of hours rather than days to describe effort to
capture variations that might be more relevant for the inclusion of part-time and
occasional fishers, as well as for non-boat fishing methods, such as gleaning.
All interviews were conducted by a local research assistant in the Cebuano language and
later translated to English by the interviewer. We worked with four local research
assistants, two women and two men. In other case studies of small-scale fisheries women
respondents reported a preference for talking to someone of their own gender (Adeokun
and Adereti 2003), so in our study the gender of the research assistant was matched to the
gender of the respondent. A total of 12 interviews were removed from the analysis.
Seven respondents had not fished in the last year, four respondents reported weekly
fishing effort were outliers to the average reported weekly effort, and one respondents'
husband answered all the questions for her. A total of 588 interviews were analyzed (296
women and 292 men).
Catch weight estimation
To estimate catch weight from interviews we used two different methods. When
reporting fish catch fishers typically used kilograms, but when reporting invertebrate
catch fishers were more likely to estimate catch size by the number of Caltex or one-liter
containers they were able to fill. We created a conversion factor of Caltex to kilograms
by taking the exact weight of the contents of mixed and single species shells of 229
Caltex containers, and found the average to be 1.012 kg (±0.012 SE). For the purposes of
this analysis we included the total weight of the animals measured, so in the case of
gastropods and bivalves this included the weight of their shell. We recognize that shell to
meat mass ratio in gastropods and bivalves is quite different than bone to meat mass ratio
in fish. If we were examining catch in terms of contribution to food security it would be
necessary to compare the meat weight or use a measurement such a kilocalorie (e.g.
Bliege Bird 2007). However, in this study animals were caught for commercial as well as
subsistence purposes, and in some cases it was the shell that was of value as material for
shell crafts, which are sold to tourists. To account for the economic and subsistence use
we measured catch weight in terms of total kilograms removed from the ocean as was
done in other studies of multi-species reef fisheries (Matthews 2002).
To examine what types of marine life were targeted by different fishing methods we took
a snap shot of fishing catch by directly measuring the catch of 254 fishing trips, 160 of
which were gleaning trips. Fishing catches were found opportunistically during the five
to seven days of data collection in each community, typically by asking interview
respondents if they would be willing to let us measure the catch of their next fishing trip.
In other cases fishers returning with their catch were opportunistically approached at
many points along the seashore to sample both subsistence and commercial catch. For
each catch we noted the fishing method used and the weight of each animal and their
species category (shell, sea cucumber, urchin, crab, shrimp, octopus, cuttlefish, squid, or
In this study we present overall estimates from all twelve communities. A number of
statistical approaches were taken. Total and fishing population estimates of adult women
and men in each community were calculated using a multinomial bootstrap method
(Chao et al. 2008)—the bootstrap function in the R statistical package ‘vegetarian’ (R
Development Core Team 2011; Charney and Record 2013). A data matrix for each
gender was created with the counts of each category (non-resident, resident fisher,
resident non-fisher) and total population size from the census as columns, and each
community as a row. Proportions of each category were formed in a multinomial
distribution, which was used to create a community-specific simulated population. One
thousand iterations of the simulated population were used to generate a distribution of
values for each category (Table 3.1).
Mean and standard error calculations for proportional measures of methods used and
effort per week categories were weighted to account for the disproportional stratified
sampling design (Gelman and Hill 2009).
To calculate the mean weekly individual catch weight, fishing effort, and CPUE by
gender and by fishing method and fishing effort categories we used a non-parametric
bootstrap analysis because our data were taken using disproportional stratified sampling.
First we created a simulated population the same size as our sample (n = 588) and
populated it with the 24 sub-populations (women and men from 12 communities) in
proportions that matched their representation in the total population. For each occurrence
of one sub-population in the simulated population, a single random sample of the value
being analyzed (e.g. kg x week-1) from the corresponding sub-population was taken
(replacement allowed). Finally the mean of the simulated population of women and men
was calculated, and 1000 iterations were used to create a distribution of values. We also
calculated the total estimated weekly fishing effort and catch size by taking the sum of all
mean values of each simulated sub-population multiplied by the estimated sub-
population size, again with 1000 iterations.
Finally proportional distribution of animal types by fishing method was estimated by
taking the average weight of each animal type within each fishing method. To compare
our observed results with the community perception of gender and fisheries, we asked
respondents to tell us who in the community is responsible for gleaning and fishing (see
Appendix). All 588 respondents were asked, but only 295 women and 285 men answered
Proportion of respondents in different fishing activities
For the purposes of this study we have placed all fishing methods into five broad
categories (Table 3.2). Men and women participated in all five categories of fishing
methods, but in different proportions. The biggest difference was between gleaning and
all other forms of fishing. Almost all women interviewed participated in gleaning,
whereas just over half of men glean (Figure 3.2a). Men’s participation in gleaning differs
as their gleaning is more often in addition to (and sometimes explained as secondary to)
other forms of fishing. In all other forms of fishing men participate in higher proportions
than women, and women’s participation is almost exclusively in the company of a male
relative, most often her husband. Of all the non-gleaning fishing methods, women’s
participation was highest in net fishing.
Respondent perception of fishing responsibilities also found a gender difference in
fishing methods used. Most women (98%, n = 295) and all men (100%, n = 285) held the
opinion that men were primarily responsible for non-gleaning fishing. On the other hand,
gleaning was perceived to be either equally done by women and men (57% and 45% of
women and men respondents respectively), or primarily the responsibility of women
(31% and 28% of women and men respondents respectively).
Women accounted for 42% of all fishers that had fished (including gleaning) in the last
year. We estimated a total of 2329 (SD = 35) women fishers and 3173 (SD = 35) men
fishers in the 12 communities we sampled (Table 3.1). We found a mean of 80% of
women and 84% of men fish in these communities, but in all communities there were
more men than women residents, mostly due to a higher occurrence of female emigration
Using different definitions of fishing changed the estimated number of fishers, and the
proportion of women fishers. The cultural definition of fishing did not include gleaning
and eliminated 70% of women and 10% of men respondents with the result that women
represented only 20% of fishers. The livelihood definition of fishing only included
respondents that identified fishing (including gleaning) as their primary livelihood, and
eliminated 76% of women and 10% of men, which resulted in women representing 16%
Catch weight and effort by gender
Women were responsible for catching 26% of the total estimated weekly catch weight
(kg), and 23% of the weekly fishing effort (hr). Women’s mean kg x week-1and hr x
week-1 were less than half that of men’s but their average CPUE was slightly higher
(Table 3.4). Most women (78%) fished less than 20 hours a week, while most men (61%)
fished more than 20 hours per week (Figure 3.2b).
Fishers that fish less than 20 hours per week (conservatively defined here as less than
full-time fishers) were responsible for just over 31% of the total weekly catch weight
(15% and 16% from women and men respectively; Figure 3.3).
Women’s catch weight (kg x week-1) was mostly from gleaning, while most of men’s
was from net fishing, although men’s catch weight was more evenly distributed amongst
the different fishing methods than women’s (Figure 3.4). Together gleaning and net
fishing brought in over two-thirds of all catch.
Animals targeted by fishing methods
Gleaners extracted mostly gastropods, bivalves, and other sessile invertebrates, while net,
hook and dive fishers caught primarily finfish (Figure 3.5). Fishing traps mostly caught
crabs, but were also used to catch finfish. The differences may be due to the different
habitats where the fishing occurred. For example, gleaning focused on benthic species
available at low tide, while net and hook fishing occurred at a greater range of depths to
include swimming species. Similarly, diving occurred at multiple depths but often in
coral reef edge areas.
This study has illustrated distinct and substantial fishing efforts of women, gleaners, and
part-time or occasional fishers, emphasizing the importance of including their effort,
catch weight, fishing methods, and target species in assessments of small-scale fisheries
and ecosystem-based management. Our study adds to the growing evidence of women’s
participation in small-scale fishing, and the heterogeneity of the small-scale fishing
strategies in communities (Bliege Bird 2007; Béné et al. 2009; Hauzer et al. 2013). Our
results suggest that current assessments limited to men, gear-driven methods, full-time
fishers, and finfish may produce inadequate representations of small-scale fisheries by
underestimating the diversity and totality of human fishing and overlooking important
social and ecological interactions. To assess the diversity and totality of small-scale
fisheries at a community scale we suggest 1) broader definitions of fishing that take
gleaning into account, 2) broader definitions of fishers that take women, part-time
fishers, and gleaners into account, and 3) broader definitions of fished species that take
benthic macro invertebrates into account. Our study, unusual in measuring the number of
women fishers and women’s contribution to the total catch (among other categories of
frequently overlooked fishing participation and practices), helps creates a model for just
Gender and the quantification of small-scale fisheries
Identification and enumeration of fishers is a necessary first step to quantifying fishing
effort and catch weight using fisher interviews. To identify fishers at the community
scale it is necessary to be aware how being defined as a fisher is mediated by gender
roles, definitions of occupation and labour, and definitions of fishing strategies. Women
may not be identified or self-identify as fishers in contexts where fishing is culturally
considered the occupation of men (Yodanis 2000). Part-time or occasional fishers may be
less likely to be counted in occupational or labour statistics (Teh and Sumaila 2013),
even though part-time labour fisheries is a common occurrence in areas with high
occupational diversity (Hill 2011). Gleaners may be similarly overlooked because it is
common for only non-gleaning fishing practices to be translated as “fishing” (Lambeth
We found that limiting the population of fishers to male, full-time, and non-gleaning
fishers underestimated the number of fishers and the totality of fishing catch size at the
community scale. In our study, women, part-time fishers, and gleaners represented 35-
55% of fishers and accounted for between 25-35% of the total weekly catch weight.
Excluding part-time fishers and gleaners disproportionately masked the participation of
women (Figure 3.2), but examining these categories also reveals that considerable
portions of men’s catch may also be overlooked or underestimated without explicit
attention to these categories.
In this case study it is clear that limited definitions of fishers and fishing did not
adequately quantify fishers or fishing catch weight at a community scale. These statistics
may also have a wider reaching impact if they are used to estimate fishing effort (Teh
and Sumaila 2013)(Teh and Sumaila 2013), indicate fisher density and fishing trends
(Christie et al. 2006), or build sustainability models for marine extraction and
conservation (Muallil et al. 2012), at regional, national and international scales. Although
we have focused on gender, labour, and fishing methods as key categories that may be
overlooked, in other contexts other groups such as migrants, and ethnic, racial, or
religious minorities should also be considered (Mills et al. 2011).
Gender and ecosystem-based management
A gender approach to small-scale fisheries dovetails nicely with the mandate of
ecosystem-based management to “scale-up” to include key social and ecological
interactions (McLeod et al. 2005; Pomeroy et al. 2010) by broadening the definitions of
fisher and fisheries. The inclusion of women fishers allows examination and integration
of ecological interactions among fishers and the species they target, as well social
interactions at a household and community level. For example women’s mangrove
fisheries in El Salvador were thought to damage the nursery habitat of species important
to men’s fisheries (Gammage 2004). The inclusion of women’s fishing highlights the
ecological interaction between women and men’s fisheries and allows for management
from an ecosystem scale. Socio-economic interactions between women and men’s
fisheries also occur at a household and community scale. In the Comoros Islands women
and men’s fisheries together formed a household subsistence and economic strategy.
Within a household women’s catch could be used as food thereby freeing up a larger
portions of the men’s catch to be sold (Hauzer et al. 2013). An example of a community
scale economic interaction was found in Mexico where women fished for the bait that
men use in their fisheries with the result that any management of men’s fishing must
absolutely reference women’s fishing and vice versa (Savard and Fraga 2005).
In our case study the inclusion of women’s fishing broadens the species to be included in
ecosystem-scale assessment and management. We found that women’s fishing was
dominated by gleaning, a fishing method that targets macro invertebrate species such as
bivalves, gastropods, sea cucumbers, and urchins (Figure 3.5). While invertebrates are
often recognized as an important marine resource in the Central Philippines, most
management tools and plans remain primarily focused on fish species (Armada et al.
2009; Muallil et al. 2012). Such narrowness is worrying, given the role that macro
invertebrates play in marine ecosystems as prey (Gell and Roberts 2003), or in
maintaining, damaging, or even creating key habitat (Pinnegar et al. 2000; Coen et al.
2007). The inclusion of women’s fishing allows the delineation of the ecosystem under
management to more closely match the community scale at which these resources are
being used and managed.
Ecosystem-based management requires the participation of stakeholders in resource
management decisions (McLeod et al. 2005) although lack of stakeholder integration has
been identified as a key gap between the aspirations and applications of this management
approach (Arkema et al. 2006). To this we would add that a clear process to identify
stakeholders is similarly lacking, without which minority or marginalized groups may be
more likely to be underrepresented and have adverse affects on management. For
example, a trochus reintroduction project in Tuvalu failed when managers neglected to
inform women fishers, who, unaware of the management plan, gleaned the introduced
animals (Seniloli et al. 2002). While we have emphasized the need to include women
fishers, a ecosystem-based management approach would also need to include non-fishing
participants in the value chain such as processors and marketers that would be affected
by management measures. Finally, while the inclusion of women’s fisheries in small-
scale fisheries assessments aid in the understanding of fisheries and can highlight
important interactions, it does not guarantee that women and men will be empowered to
fully participate in the management of their resources. Hence, the role of gender in
community participation in resource management and governance should also be
considered (Clabots 2013; Chapter 5).
Gender and data collection
There are increasing attempts to include women in fisheries and management
assessments (e.g. Bacalso et al. 2013), but data collection on women with the goal of
gender analysis and integration, often falls short of original intentions (Harrison 1997).
This may in part be due to situations where the additional logistical requirements needed
to collect accurate gender data (see: Wongbusarakum and Pomeroy 2000; Quist and
Polotan-De La Cruz 2008; Brugere 2012) are unknown or unimplemented. Future
research to expand on the findings of this study should include greater detail on the
seasonality of fishing practices, social and economic data on women’s and men’s
participation in small-scale fisheries and management with particular attention to food
security, and scale up to national and global assessments by including wider geographic
To understand and manage small-scale fisheries it is important to challenge the
assumptions made about who fishes, and what fishing should be quantified and
considered in management decision making. Our quantitative assessment clearly
demonstrates the substantial contribution of women, gleaners, and part-time fishers to the
total catch weight and effort, and the greater diversity of fishers and fisheries that may be
included using broader definitions. We must shift the burden of proof by beginning with
the assumption that women, part-time fishers, and gleaners are important to our
ecosystem and community level understanding of fisheries, and as a result engaging in
data collection that can capture the full diversity and totality of human fishing. It should
no longer be acceptable to assume these groups are negligible simply because they do not
fit the narrow and more traditional definitions of fishing. It is of course not possible to
collect everything, but we have demonstrated here that there is support for broadening
who counts and who gets counted.
Table 3.1. Sample size for data collection by method in each community with estimates of residents and fisher populations.
Estimated resident population
population size (SD)
w = women, m = men
Table 3.2. Description of fishing methods used.
This is done is done by walking in intertidal areas, and collecting
marine animals. Habitats can include rocky intertidal, reef tops,
mangroves, and seagrass beds. The habitat often overlaps with
shallow diving habitat, but at different tides. Gleaners often use
their hands and collect their catch in a bucket, but they may also
use a knife or machete to pry or hack animals off rocks and coral,
or they may use a long rod, a spear, or a scratching devise known
as kay kay, which is illegal. Scoop nets are also occasionally used.
As with diving, gleaning is done at night with a lantern or
flashlight. While very common for gleaners to use nearby
habitat, they will also travel to other gleaning areas by boat.
Nets of various descriptions are used and may be on permanent
corral structures, set up as passive drift nets, or actively dragged.
Fishers will often use methods to drive fish into the nets either
by swimming towards them in a coordinated fashion, or using a
large wooden pole that is splashed into the water. Some types of
nets such as bottom trawlers or double and triple nets are illegal.
There are also limitations of mesh size.
Usually done from boats but can also be done from the
shoreline. A variety of hooks and lures are used. Many times a
single hook is used but there are also two varieties of multi-hook
and line used.
Free diving is done during the day, but also during the night,
either with a lantern on the prow of the boat, or increasingly
commonly with a waterproof flashlight attached to the head.
Fishers may use their hands, but also use spears, rods, or scoop
nets. Divers may go directly from shore, or may take a boat and
go further afield. The diving category also includes divers that
use compressors, which provide an air supply that allows divers
to dive deeper and longer. This method is illegal in many
locations around the Danajon Bank. In some cases respondents
were specifically targeting species for the aquarium trade.
Traps of various shapes and sizes are used, made either out of
bamboo or plastic mesh.
* Cebuano words given by respondents to describe fishing methods. They are often
synonyms, but may also refer to diversity within the fishing categories.
Table 3.3. Proportion of resident fishers and population sex ratio.
Proportion of resident
population that fishes
w = women, m = men
Table 3.4. Estimation of mean individual weekly catch weight, effort, CPUE, and
population weekly catch weight and effort.
Women (n = 296)
Men (n = 292)
Individual Catch (kg x week-1)
Individual Effort (hrs x week-1)
CPUE (kg x hr-1)
Population Catch (tonnes x week-1)
Population Effort (1000 hrs x week-1)
Figure 3.1. Study communities in the Central Philippines. The study sites are as follows: 1) Bilang-bilangan West, 2) Batasan, 3)
Pandanon, 4) Asinan, 5) Jandayan Norte, 6) Handumon, 7) Pinamgo, 8) Cataban, 9) Bilang-bilangan East, 10) Butan, 11) Saguise, 12)
Figure 3.2. The proportional participation of women and men fishers by A) fishing method (each bar represents the proportion of
women or men that participated in each fishing method, but categories of fishing are not mutually exclusive because participants often
employ more than one form of fishing proportions within each gender do not add to 1) and B) weekly fishing effort (categories are
Figure 3.3. Distribution of the proportional estimated total weekly catch weight by fishing
effort, and distribution of the proportion of fishers by fishing effort.
Figure 3.4. The estimated weekly catch weight of women and men from five different
fishing method categories. The proportional contribution of each method type within each
fisher category (“all,” “men,” “women”) is added with labels.
Figure 3.5. Mean catch by animal category of five fishing methods, directly measured
from fishing trips. The “other” category includes all animal and plant types that made up
less than 3% in all fishing methods. It includes seaweeds, jellyfish, and unidentified
animals. The sample size of diving catch was low and contained one catch that included a
37kg ray. For this reason the mean catch and the dominance of finfish in this category is
likely to be an overestimation.
4. The invisible walking fishers: gleaning as an important form of
Data gaps impede the quantification of fishing catch and effort at local, national and
international scales. The causes of these data gaps are often characterized as falling
within illegal, unreported, or unregulated fisheries (IUU). Research on IUU fisheries
largely focuses on high seas or commercial fishing efforts that are illegal or purposefully
underreported. From a management and research perspective IUU fisheries have been
given a negative connotation to the point that the FAO has deliberately set out to
“prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing” (FAO 2001).
What are often missing from these characterizations of IUU fisheries is small-scale
fisheries (Metuzals et al. 2010). Small-scale fisheries often fall with both the unreported
and unregulated categories (Zeller et al. 2007), but do not fall within commercial or high
seas contexts and so are often left out of IUU assessments. The rigorous inclusion of
small-scale fisheries in assessment is often missing, leading to underestimations of these
contributions. Yet, it is increasingly recognized that small scale fisheries contribute
significantly to food and poverty alleviation (FAO and WorldFish Centre 2008), and they
are likely to be a significant proportion of fishing catch overall. Lack of capacity to
monitor these fisheries is one reason for the data gap (McCluskey and Lewison 2008),
but this may also be exacerbated by the marginalization of many small-scale fishers.
Attempts to estimate IUU fisheries should address the variety of issues that impede
national and global scale quantification of fishing catch and effort. Within small-scale
fisheries there are specific groups that may be more likely to be marginalized and these
can include artisanal and indigenous fishers (Davis and Jentoft 2001), subsistence fishers
(Harris et al. 2010), poor fishers (Pattanaik 2007), women and children (Bird and Bliege
Bird 2000; Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3), as well as well as people using fishing
methods that do not use boats and similar technologies.
Gleaning – walking in intertidal habitat and gathering primarily marine invertebrates – is
a fishing method used all over the world (Kleiber et al. 2014a; Chapter 2). And yet
gleaning is often not included in the definitions of “fishing”, and overlooked in the
quantification of small-scale fisheries, making it paradoxically both pervasive and
invisible (Vunisea 1997; Unsworth and Cullen 2010; Weeratunge et al. 2010). Fishing
without a vessel or boat is particularly relevant to the discussion of overlooked or
marginalized fishing since the enumeration of boats is often used to calculate fishing
effort when direct measures of catch and effort are unavailable (McCluskey and Lewison
2008). These methods completely overlook the fishers and fisheries that operate without
a vessel. This can also influence the enumeration of fishers. Gleaning labour is
recognized nationally by Spain, but at the European level, workers in fisheries and
aquaculture are enumerated, but gleaning is not included in either of those categories
(European Commission 2003), resulting in the underestimation of fishing catch and
labour. In a diversity of geographic and cultural contexts gleaning is mostly done by
women (Kleiber et al. 2014a; Chapter 2), a factor that likely further contributes to the
invisibility and marginalization of gleaning. While men do use gleaning as a fishing
method, they are often found to glean less frequently than women (Meehan 1977; Kleiber
et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). Sex or gender-disaggregated data in natural resources sectors is
rare (IUCN 2014), and is in part due to a general dearth of data on women’s labour at
national and international scales (United Nations 2006).
The data gap in gleaning lead to an underestimation of the contribution of gleaning to
local economies and food security. While gleaning catch is often used exclusively for
subsistence, it may also have a significant economic value. For example, Spain’s
mariscadoras, shell fishery had estimated worth of 47 million € in 2001 (European
Commission 2003). In other cases, shells may be traded at local curio markets to tourists
(Newton et al. 1993), or sold internationally for the button trade (Thorburn 2000). Other
gleaned species such as sea cucumber and octopus are also found in the international
seafood trade (Barnes-Mauthe et al. 2013). In addition, gleaning catch is an important
source of protein, and hence food security in a number of settings. In South Africa,
gleaned shellfish supplied 8% of the annual protein consumption of one coastal
community (Hockey et al. 1988), and in a village in Fiji, the gleaning efforts of 70
women were an important source of food for between 300-500 people from low income
households (Quinn and Davis 1997). Overlooking gleaning also hinders socio-ecological
approaches to fisheries that are often recommended as holistic approaches to small-scale
fisheries management (Nordlund et al. 2011). While conservation approaches might only
gather data on commercial and boat fishing, overfishing has been documented in gleaning
fisheries (Frangoudes et al. 2008), and there are likely to be broader ecosystem level
impacts of gleaning practices through habitat disturbance, particularly in important near-
shore nursery habitats (Gammage 2004).
This paper, takes a socio-ecological approach to examine a case study of gleaning in the
Central Philippines. I collected quantitative and qualitative data from interviews and
fishing trips in twelve coastal and island communities in the northern section of the
province of Bohol (Figure 3.1). We examined when people begin to glean, as well as the
social, economic, and biophysical factors that contribute to the use of gleaning as a
fishing method. To understand the economic and food security contribution of gleaning,
we also used community-wide estimations of catch volume by fishing method, catch
type, catch use, and economic value of gleaning and all other small-scale fishing catch.
We also examined the spatial and economic strategies of gleaners by measuring the
distance they travel and the species and size characteristics of the animals they choose to
sell. Finally we estimated the reported yearly change in catch per unit effort (CPUE) of
gleaning as well as for other fishing methods.
Our case study took place in the Danajon Bank region of the Central Philippines (Figure
3.1). Small-scale fisheries characterized by a diversity of gears are used in this region
(Selgrath et al. in review), and gleaning is the most widespread fishing method (Kleiber
et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). Gleaning is the most common fishing method used by women
and children, although men also glean (Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). Gleaning is
largely open access with the exception of specific no-fishing marine protected areas (D.
Kleiber, personal observation). Fishing including gleaning is a major form of livelihood,
but there are other income generating activities as well as water carrying and shell crafts
(Guieb 2008). In the Danajon Bank, overfishing and destructive fishing activities such as
dynamite and cyanide have put tremendous pressure on the marine ecosystem (Christie et
al. 2006). Marine management is decentralized to municipal and community levels
(Lowry et al. 2005), with increasing reliance on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a key
management practice. Poverty is prevalent throughout this region (Guieb 2008).
As in many other places in the world, gleaning in the Danajon bank takes place in
shallow water, and is often limited to near-shore waters. Habitats that gleaners exploit
included rocky intertidal, mangroves, exposed reef, and seagrass beds. Gleaners walk in
the shallows gathering mostly gastropods, bivalves, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, but also
occasionally fish caught in pools. Gleaners often use their hands and a collecting bag or
bucket, but may also use a knife, long pole, or occasionally a small scoop net. Gleaning is
usually done at low tide to increase the size of the fishing ground, and the ease of seeing
prey. Divers and gleaners often exploit the same habitats but at different stages of the
tide, and the distinction between gleaners and divers is often context specific. For the
purposes of this study, we define gleaning as a form of fishing done while walking where
the fisher keeps their head above water. Other forms of fishing from the shoreline, such
as hook and line or cast nets were categorized by their gear type.
Project Seahorse has worked in the Danajon Bank region since 1993, forming a local
conservation NGO, Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation (PSF) in 2003.
PSF collaborated on our project, supporting the research by providing connections to the
local community. In turn, the results of our study are being used to inform local marine
Interview respondent selection
We randomly selected adult interview respondents (here defined as 16 or older) from the
census of each community, stratified by gender (for more detail please see Kleiber et al.
2014b; Chapter 3). We interviewed respondents that had fished, including gleaning, in
the last year. In cases where a respondent could not be found, a family member or
neighbour was substituted, resulting in haphazard sampling. All interviews were
conducted by a local research assistant in the Cebuano language and later translated to
English by the interviewer. For each interview, we recorded a series of variables that
related to the individual, their family, and their community (Table 4.1).
Reported catch biomass, use of catch, and change in catch
To examine the contribution of gleaning and other fishing practices to catch retained for
food eaten by the family in all 12 communities, we interviewed women (n = 296) and
men (n = 292) about their individual fishing practices. Interviews regarding fishing have
been found to produce accurate estimations of fishing efforts and catch biomass (Kuster
et al. 2006). Interviews were semi-structured and took 30-60 minutes to complete.
Respondents were asked about each fishing method they used. For each method, we
asked respondents to tell us 1) the biomass of a typical catch, 2) the duration and
frequency of fishing trips, 3) the proportion of their catch allocated to household
consumption, selling, or other uses, 4) the species they most commonly caught, and 5) if
they have ever caught zero catch during a fishing trip. We also asked respondents to
recall the year and the catch biomass and duration of a typical fishing trip when they first
started using that particular fishing method. If they had moved to the community as an
adult, they were asked to report the catch of their first fishing trip in their current
community. Calculations of change in CPUE were done for each reported methods.
Because many fishers used more than one method, they are represented more than once.
Calculation of the edible weight and economic value of reported catch
Edible yield and the economic value of catch varied by species, or animal category
(Table 4.2 and Table 4.3). During the interviews respondents reported up to six marine
animals that they most commonly caught using a particular fishing method. We estimated
the catch weight for each reported species (Skg), by dividing the total reported catch
weight evenly between the number of species reported, unless otherwise detailed by the
respondent. The edible yield (EY) of an animal is the proportion of edible mass divided
by the total mass of an animal. In this study the EY of fish, octopus, squid, cuttlefish, sea
cucumbers, sea stars, shrimp, and jellyfish, was assumed to equal their total weight (EY =
1). We measured the total and edible weight and calculated the mean EY of 28 of the
most commonly caught gastropods, bivalves, crabs, and urchins (Table 4.2). We also
randomly sampled 20 animals from each species, and used them to calculate the mean
and standard deviation of each animal category for cases where species specific EY was
not available. The categories were 1) bivalves, 2) gastropods, 3) urchins, 4) crabs, 5)
shells (both bivalves and gastropods in the rare cases where the animal was not identified
as one or the other; Table 4.2). For each individually reported catch the following
equation was then used to calculate the sum of the edible weight:
We estimated the economic value of two categories of catch use: 1) catch sold and, 2)
catch retained for food or other purposes. First we multiplied the total reported mass of
catch the reported proportion of catch that went to each of the categories of catch use.
The mass of sold and retained fish catch were then evenly divided amongst the number of
reported animals (unless otherwise specified by the respondent) to obtain the catch
weight of each reported species within each use category (Skgsold and Skgretained).
To estimate the mean monetary value (MV = PHP x kg-1) of five different categories of
marine animals we directly measured the catch of 254 fishing trips, 162 of which were
gleaning trips (PHP is the Philippine peso). Fishing catches were found and measured
opportunistically during the 5-7 days of data collection in each community. For all
catches, each animal was categorized as 1) a shell (gastropod or bivalve), 2) an
echinoderm (sea cucumber or urchin), 3) an arthropod (crab or shrimp), 4) a cephalopod
(octopus, cuttlefish or squid), or 5) a finfish, and the economic value (if sold) of each
individual animal was recorded. We calculated the mean monetary value within each of
those categories (Table 4.3).
The monetary value by category was then used to estimate the total monetary value of the
reported catches by using the following equations:
We conducted 240 household surveys in the 12 study communities (respondents were
selected using the same methods as fisher interviews). We noted the fishing participation
and method (gleaning, non-gleaning, or both) for each household member including
children. From the household survey data children were split into four age categories
(less than 6; 7-9; 10-12; 13-15). For purposes of comparison, we also examined the adult
participation in the same three fishing categories, although those data were obtained from
the fishing method interviews and fishing participation survey, rather than the household
Maximum fishing distance
We recorded the GPS tracks of 128 fishing trips (64 gleaning and 64 other fishing
methods). Volunteer fishers were haphazardly selected and either carried the GPS on a
belt while gleaning, or strapped to their boat for other fishing methods. All volunteers
were made aware of the data that were being collected and given the option to decline.
The maximum distance of each trip was calculated as the straight-line distance between
the starting point of the fishing trip and the trip’s furthest point (Figure 4.1). Calculation
and mapping were done in QGIS (Quantum GIS Development Team 2013).
Individual, household and community level factors
Gender, age, and boat ownership status, were collected during the interviews with
individual fishers. Questions related to the allocation of catch also allowed us to
categorize fishers as either a subsistence fishers or a commercial fisher. Many fishers did
both, so any fisher that sold any part or all of their catch was categorized as a commercial
During the interviews we also asked questions related to food security. We measured
food security through a Coping Strategies Index (CSI). The CSI is used as a continuous
variable to measure relative levels of food insecurity (Maxwell et al. 1999). In the index,
five different food shortage strategies were identified, each with different levels of
severity (Table 4.4). Respondents were asked how often their family engaged in these
food strategies every week in the last year. To calculate the family CSI the frequency of
each strategy was multiplied by a weighting related to its severity (Table 4.4), and then
summed. A higher CSI value would then related to greater reported food insecurity.
As part of the interviews we observed and asked about different aspects of material
wealth. We followed methods developed by Hill et al. 2012. A score of material wealth
was developed from the first axis of a PCA of four measures (Table 4.5). Each individual
was assigned a score based on these on these material attributes. Scores ranged from -
1.87 (the poorest) to 4.76 (the wealthiest). The first axis explains 50.21% of the variation.
The gleaning area size available within walking distance varies among communities. We
combined several methods to estimate gleaning area size. We first used the GPS tracks of
gleaners from each community that had volunteered to carry a GPS unit while gleaning.
Because of low sample size the tracks were likely not indicative of all gleaning areas.
Therefore we also asked between 2 and 5 key informants in each community to indicate
gleaning areas on a satellite image of a map of their community. The maps given were
either printed and gleaning areas were drawn onto the map in ink, or when available the
map was shown in Google Earth and a path was created in the program to indicate the
gleaning area (Google 2012). In one case we were unable to ask key informants to draw a
gleaning area because a satellite image of the community was not available. In this case
we walked around the contours of the gleaning area, and calculated the area within the
track. The GPS gleaning tracks and Google earth paths were imported into QGIS and
Google Earth Satellite images in QGIS were used to redraw the hand drawn gleaning
areas (Quantum GIS Development Team 2013). All data was converted to UTM
coordinates and the gleaning area (km2) was calculated.
For each barangay we calculated the distance to the nearest market and to Cebu, the
nearest city center. We used the analysis tools in QGIS (Quantum GIS Development
We collected data in twelve communities, representing six municipalities in the northern
section of the province of Bohol. Based on our initial knowledge of the communities
there were six communities with MPAs in the gleaning area and six outside the gleaning
area. Upon talking to local authorities we later discovered that the MPA boundaries in the
communities of Jandayan Norte had been specifically moved out of the gleaning area,
and that gleaning was allowed in the MPA of Pandanon. These MPAs were then recoded
as being outside of the communities gleaning area.
We used a non-parametric bootstrap analysis of the catch mass data to estimate the total
weekly catch volume within specific fishing categories. A bootstrap was used because the
data was taken using disproportional stratified sampling (for further details of the
sampling and analysis see Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). We used analysis of variance
(ANOVA) to examine the differences of maximum distance by the fishing method
(gleaning and non-gleaning fishing) and the gleaned edible mass of sold and unsold
animals. In both cases, the log value of the y-variable was used to meet the assumption of
normality. Confidence intervals are reported at the 0.025 and 0.975 quantiles.
To examine gleaners and gleaning effort (response variables) of fishers, by individual,
household, and community characteristics (explanatory variables, Table 4.1), we used
mixed-effects models to account for the pseudo-replication at the community level
(Gelman and Hill 2009; Zuur et al. 2009). We used the z-score of continuous explanatory
variables (value-value mean/(2*SD)), which allowed for easier comparisons with binary
variables by standardizing their scale (Gelman and Hill 2009). Before the explanatory
variables were input into the model they were examined for collinearity. If two
explanatory variables had a collinearity of >0.6, the variable with the highest variance
inflation factor (VIF) was removed (Logan 2010). Gleaning effort is a continuous
variable, but due to a high proportion of zeros (indicating respondents that didn’t
participate in gleaning), we first used a binomial model created with the entire data set
(effort either being 1 or 0). We then created a linear model with the subset of the data
where effort > 0 (Fletcher et al. 2005). For the linear model we took the log of effort to
normalize the data distribution.
Using a likelihood ratio test, we found that the model was significantly improved by
allowing the intercept to vary by the random factor of community (L = 23.41, df = 1, p <
0.0001) (Zuur et al. 2009). Furthermore we found the mean of community gleaning effort
differed significantly from the global mean in ten out of twelve communities. This is the
only analysis where we take community level variation into account. We used the “lme4”
and “lme” R packages (Bates 2010; R Development Core Team 2011). We used a multi-
model approach to average the models. Models were ranked by Akaike’s information
criterion (AICc), and the relative weight of evidence for each model was given by
Akaike’s weight (ω). Since no model was overwhelmingly supported by the data (which
is only the case if ω>0.9) we calculated the average of all models that had an AICc Δ >4
from the top ranking model (Burnham and Anderson 2002; Table 4.6). The AIC Δ
between the null models (models with no fixed effects) and the top ranking models were
both > 4 (Table 4.6). Model selection and averaging was done using the “MuMIn”
package in R (R Development Core Team 2011).
Open-ended questions regarding gleaning and other forms of fishing were asked during
the interview. The translated responses, which include field notes summarizing responses
and direct quotes, were coded using Excel. The results are presented as summary
A considerable portion of the population gleaned; in the 12 communities between 45%
and 83% of residents gleaned. Being female, retaining catch for food, increased reported
food insecurity, and increased gleaning area size were the most important predictors of
using gleaning as a fishing method (Figure 4.2). Inter-community variation only
explained 4.25% of the total variance of the full model. Women were 69% more likely
than men to be gleaners, and fishers who retained all their catch for food were 45% more
likely to be gleaners than fishers who sold part or all of their catch. Increased food
insecurity as well as a larger gleaning area increased the likelihood of being a gleaner by
20% and 14% respectively (Figure 4.2).
Among those that did glean, most gleaned an average of 4.2 hours per week (median =
1.4 hours). Although many gleaners are limited to nearshore gleaning areas only available
for 1-2 hours a day, other gleaners travel to remote and exposed tidal flats that are
exposed for longer periods of time allowing for higher than average weekly effort. In the
linear model the top four explanatory variables that were the most important predictors of
gleaning effort were the same as those for the binomial gleaning model (Figure 4.2). A
greater amount of inter-community variation was explained in the full linear model
(12.42% of variance accounted for). Among gleaners, women gleaned on average 76%
more hours than men. Fishers that sold all or part of their gleaning catch also gleaned
over twice as many hours as fishers who never sold their catch. Gleaning effort also
increased with increasing food insecurity and gleaning area size.
Age, material wealth, distance to the nearby city of Cebu, and the type of MPA did not
have any predictive power for either the logistic or linear models (Figure 4.2). Boat
ownership had a negative, but not significant relationship to being a gleaner or gleaning
effort among gleaners (Figure 4.2). Distance to the closest market and distance to Cebu
were highly correlated (rs = 0.67). The distance to market was removed because it had the
highest variance inflation factor (2.52).
Children began participating in fishing, in the form of gleaning, as young as two years
old. From direct observation we found young children often gleaned in large groups with
their mother or other adult relatives. Within the households interviewed, 46% of girls and
40% of boys used some type of fishing method. Girls continued to glean as they aged
whereas boys increasingly participated in other forms of fishing as well (Figure 4.3).
Use of catch
Gleaning made a substantial contribution to the total estimated weight and economic
value of the weekly catch sold (13% in both cases), but the contribution was even greater
to the estimated total weight and economic value of the catch that was retained (27% and
45% respectively; Table 4.7).
Gleaners mostly caught invertebrates, while non-gleaning fishing was mostly focused on
vertebrates (Table 4.7). Shells (gastropods and bivalves), which was the largest portion of
animals represented in gleaning catches (39% of animals 162 gleaning trips), was also the
least economically valuable per kg of the animal categories (Table 4.3). Gleaners sold
larger animals while retaining smaller animals for household consumption. The edible
weight of gleaned animals that were sold was 1.24 times larger than the edible weight of
animals that were not sold (F = 248.38, p-value < 0.0001). Gleaned animals that were
mostly sold included lukot (the egg sacs of seahare species), sea cucumbers, and bivalves
Distance of fishing trips
The maximum distance gleaners traveled from their community was between 0.03 and
6.00 km during gleaning trips (mean = 0.89 km, median = 0.49 km). Maximum distance
of non-gleaning fishers was between 0.12 and 17.11 km (mean = 4.20 km, median = 3.13
km). The maximum distance of non-gleaners was on average 5 times further from the
community of origin than of gleaners (F = 81.39, p < 0.001). Although some gleaners use
boats to reach remote tidal flats, most gleaners do not use boats, which may account for
the difference in distance traveled.
Catch consistency and change
The average edible catch per unit effort from gleaning was smaller than that from non-
gleaning fishing methods with a mean 0.39 kg/hr (CI = 0.35, 0.43) and 0.54 kg/hr (CI =
0.49, 0.59) for gleaning and non-gleaning fishing respectively. Gleaners reported that
they were less likely to come home with no catch than fishers using other fishing
methods. Among gleaners 21% (SE = 2.1%), and among non-gleaning fishers 45% (SE =
2.4%) reported having ever caught zero.
Most gleaning and non-gleaning fishing methods report a decline in CPUE calculated
from their current and past reported catch and effort (Table 4.8). Among the gleaning and
non-gleaning fishing methods where an increase in CPUE was calculated, most
respondents explained the increase as a change in fishing strategy or increased efficiency
(e.g. a change in gear, or increased ability), while a smaller number suggested ecological
and climate variables (Figure 4.5). Among the gleaning and non-gleaning fishing
methods where a decrease in CPUE was calculated, most respondents felt it was due to an
increase in the number of fishers, with other causes of fishing intensification also
mentioned (Figure 4.5).
We found that gleaning is a key component to livelihood and food security strategies of
fishers in the Danajon Bank. Gleaners contribute 13% of the edible catch that is sold, and
27% of the edible catch that is retained by fishers to feed themselves and their family. A
better understanding of the contribution of small-scale fisheries has been identified as a
top research priority of fisheries policy makers (Staples et al. 2004), but intertidal
fisheries are seldom included in fisheries assessments (European Commission 2003;
Nordlund et al. 2013). By examining the contribution of a marginalized fishery we have
created a robust understanding of small-scale fisheries in the region. Our study illustrates
how gleaning can be better recognized and included in future analysis of the region, and
around the world.
Gleaning is an ancient and currently widespread form of fishing (Salls 1988; Dalzell
1998; Kleiber et al. 2014a; Chapter 2), but in many contexts it is characterized as
subordinate to other fisheries. For example in the Pacific Northwest of Canada, Moss
(1993) observed: “The Tlingit associate shellfish with poverty, laziness, and ritual
impurity, and those who sought to be ‘ideal’ persons avoided shellfish. An individual’s
rank and gender determined the degree to which such dietary guidelines were actually
followed”. In our study, one respondent explained the difference in economic and food
security terms by stating that “Gleaning it is [sic] only for viand so it is also important,
but crab fishing is more important because we can buy rice.” In the central Philippines,
viand is a meat or vegetable side dish that accompanies the rice. The secondary social and
cultural status of gleaning may be part of why it is less likely to be included in fisheries
assessments and management. Identifying the individual and household factors that are
common to gleaners can help identify groups that may be underserved or
underrepresented in fisheries management. In our study the inclusion of gleaning made it
clear that women were actively involved in fishing, and that fishing often begins at a very
young age among children. Our study also highlighted the role of families with higher
levels of food insecurity, and subsistence fishers. These populations may have less
representation in community-based decision-making, not only because they are less likely
to have political capital, but may also have less time to devote to civic activities, as
evidenced by the fact that people with greater food insecurity spend more time gleaning.
Economic and livelihood strategies
Gleaning catch is often worth less in monetary terms than catch from other fisheries. For
example, in Madagascar fisheries gleaners have the lowest annual income when
compared to fishers that use other fishing methods (Barnes-Mauthe et al. 2013). This
may be due to differences in economic demand for the marine animals targeted, and
subsequently their market value. In our study we found that a kilogram of shells, the
primary catch of gleaners, was worth approximately one fifth that of a kilogram of
finfish, the primary catch of non-gleaning fishers. This disparity in monetary value may
be part of why we found that gleaning catch is more likely to be retained for food. As one
respondent said “[N]one has gone rich because of gleaning”. Overall gleaning
contributed 13% of the monetary value of catch sold in a week.
Gleaning catch retained for food may be an important part of the household livelihood
strategy. The use of gleaning for viand decreases the family expenses on food, and the
money can then be used on other items. We found that gleaning contributed 45% of the
monetary value of catch retained for food, suggesting that it does play an important
economic role even as a source of food. For example one gleaner explained that
“[Gleaning is] important also because you can save money because you don't have to buy
your food. Your effort is just your investment because you don't have to spend”. Because
gleaners use very little gear, their investment costs are much smaller than most other
fishers. This low investment cost may make gleaning particularly important to families
and fishers without access to capital to buy gear, including boats (also helping to explain
the demographics of those who glean, including men, women, and children). However,
we did not find any link between material wealth or boat ownership and the probability of
gleaning or the amount of gleaning effort. In this case our measures of material wealth
may not have been an appropriate proxy for current access to capital. While material
wealth did not come out as an important predictor in our models, greater levels of food
insecurity was positively correlated with an increase in the probability of gleaning and
greater gleaning effort.
“If we can't glean we don't have food” Gleaner, 2011
“Gleaning is not for livelihood1, those people gleaning are those families who don't have
somethings [sic] for viand” Respondent, 2011
Small-scale fisheries have been identified as a key source of food security (Béné et al.
2007). In our study of the Danajon Bank, we found that gleaning was an important part of
family food security strategies. Gleaning contributed over one quarter of the edible catch
retained for food, and there are a number of factors that may make gleaning important as
a source of food security. It may be the only fishery available when other fishing is not
available due to bad weather. One gleaner explained, “If it’s windy days I go gleaning so
that we'll have viand.” Other respondents also suggesting gleaning catch added diversity
to the diet. The low variability of gleaning catch may be another reason that gleaning is
an important source of food security. For example, in the Torres Strait women mostly
chose to glean because it offered a small but reliable food source (Bliege Bird 2007). We
found that gleaners had a lower CPUE, and were very unlikely to have the unusually
large – or jack pot – catches that non-gleaning fishers sometimes experienced. But we
also found that fewer gleaners (21%) reported having had a previous experience of
catching nothing, as compared to 45% of those who engaged in other fishing who
reported that this had occurred. Hence, the limitations of reward but also risk may
1 In this case the word livelihood is interpreted as monetary income, so does not include
contribute to the more frequent use of gleaning for subsistence fishing (Chapman 1987;
Bliege Bird 2007).
Gleaning catch threats and management
Overfishing can deplete targeted species in gleaning areas (Frangoudes et al. 2008).
Management measures such as limited entry (Frangoudes et al. 2008), temporal closures
(Cohen and Foale 2013) or marine protected areas (Aswani and Weiant 2003), have all
been used to in different contexts to sustain gleaning fisheries. In the Central Philippines
gleaning is mostly open access, with the exception of marine protected areas (MPAs) that
are managed mostly as no-take areas. Most gleaners in this study had experienced a
decline in CPUE, which is a pattern we also found in non-gleaning fishers, and has also
been detailed for non-gleaning fishers in this area by other long term monitoring studies
(Green et al. 2004). In this study gleaning and non-gleaning fishers attribute the decline
in catch to an increase in overall effort, which is driven by an increase in the number of
fishers. The reported intertidal catch decline and attribution to a greater number of fishers
has also been found in Tanzania (Nordlund et al. 2011).
The regulation and improvement of gleaning fisheries in our study area may be limited by
a number of interacting social and biophysical factors. We found that gleaners fished
closer to their communities, and this could be due to limitations in the size of gleaning
habitat. The area available for gleaning also varies with the tides, which limits the fishing
time available often to just one or two hours. Lack of boats may make it harder for
gleaners to access new habitats in an effort to increase their CPUE. Furthermore human
use of coastal habitats can have direct effects on gleaning habitat. In the study
communities we visited there were examples of mangroves that had been changed into
fishponds, piers built in intertidal habitats, lack of solid waste regulation along the
seashore, and the harvesting of coral and rocks, which often form intertidal habitat, to be
used in housing materials. Attempts to regulate gleaning must also acknowledge its role
in food security. Attempts at absolute closures in the form of MPAs have not always been
successful in this area, and the rules regarding gleaning in particular have been more
flexible than other fisheries, and the push back is often couched in terms of food security.
A similar situation was found in the western Visayas region of the Philippines, when
attempts were made to regulate nearshore mosquito net fishing (Eder 2005).
By examining both gleaning and non-gleaning fishing it is possible to also examine the
important interactions between the two (Béné and Tewfik 2001). Changes in one fishery
can often have effects on other fisheries and lead to fishers choosing to use different
fishing methods based on fluctuating availability of resources. In our study one
respondent explained: “If they don't have catch in gleaning they would go fishing. If
there's no catch in fishing, then they do gleaning it's either of the two [sic]”. For example
in Fiji when there was an increase in offshore catch due to the introduction of motorized
boats, near shore fishing decreased (Kuster et al. 2005). In a different context in French
Polynesia widespread over-gleaning, a fishing method traditionally used by women, has
led women to become boat fishers (Walker and Robinson 2009). In our study area the
opposite may have occurred. In one community a respondent explained loss of gleaning
resources was attributed to an influx of male fishers that had begun to glean when their
fish stocks had collapsed. Furthermore the ecological interactions between gleaning and
other fisheries may occur. In El Salvador, women’s gleaning was thought to have adverse
effects on the juvenile nursery grounds of fin fish (Gammage 2004), and in Tanzania,
men’s diving in subtidal areas was thought to decrease the gleaning catch in the intertidal
habitats (Porter et al. 2008). This second scenario was also brought up in our study when
one respondent explained that “[Gleaning] will improve if illegal fishers [compressor
divers] will be removed. Because they cause disturbance, and ideally, these animals move
towards the shores and are being caught also in intertidal areas”. Understanding
ecosystem level interaction between intertidal and subtidal animals, as well as the use of
these habitats by different animals at different stages in their life history would be an
important direction for future research.
To engage in meaningful small-scale fisheries science and management that accounts for
the diversity of fisheries, it is important to reframe the definition of fishing and fishing
effort to include walking fishers. We have demonstrated that when examined in detail,
this overlooked fishery contributes substantially to both food security and the total
economic value of small-scale fisheries in the Central Philippines. Furthermore the
inclusion of gleaning highlights the fishing of marginalized populations including
women, children, the food insecure, and subsistence fishers. Our case study suggests that
the addition of gleaning to small-scale fisheries assessments would increase our socio-
ecological understanding of fishing, and illuminate one of the least studied aspects of
Table 4.1. Explanatory variables used in mixed-effects model.
Adult age range between 16-76
Fisher type a
Subsistence fisher (all catch is eaten) OR
Commercial fisher (all or part of catch is sold)
Material wealth a, d
Score of material wealth
Food insecurity a, d
Score of food insecurity
Boat owner a
Does not own a boat OR
Owns at least one boat
Gleaning area size b, d
Gleaning area size (km2) in walking distance
Distance to Cebu b
Distance (km) to the major fish market found in Cebu
MPA type c
MPA in the community gleaning area OR
MPA outside of the community gleaning area
a Data collected during interviews of randomly selected fishers (n = 588).
b Data collected through mapping exercises with key informants and GIS tracks of fishing
trips. Calculated in QGIS using a UTM map of the area.
c Communities with MPAs in the gleaning area labeled “in”, those with MPAs outside of
the gleaning area labeled “out”.
d See appendix A for greater detail.
Table 4.2. Edible yield of invertebrate species
Table 4.3. Monetary value of catch by species category
crabs and shrimp
squid, octopus and
urchins and sea cucumbers
Table 4.4. Levels of food insecurity
Food shortage strategy
The family ate less preferred food
The family ate less food during the day
One individual in the family skipped a meal
The family skipped a meal
The family skipped a day of eating
Table 4.5. Measures of Material Wealth
Number of rooms in the house
Count of 1-4
Number of working gadgets owned
Count of 0-10
A toilet in the house
0 = no,
1 = yes
Building material (wall + roof + floor)
all native = 3,
mixed = 4-8,
all non-native = 9
Table 4.6. Summary of Mix-Effect Models
number of models with Δ < 4
AIC Δ from null model
Relative Importance of factors
selling part or all of catch
gleaning area size
distance to Cebu
Logistic and linear models were ranked by Akaike’s information criterion (AICc). The
number of models included fell within Δ < 4 of the highest ranking logistic or linear
model (Logan 2010). The Akaike weight (ω) gives a relative weight of evidence for each
model, and if any one model has a ω > 0.9, then an averaging of the models is not
recommended (Burnham and Anderson 2002). The relative importance of each
explanatory variable is a sum of the ω of each model where the particular variable is
Table 4.7. The proportional contribution of gleaning to the total weekly catch in six
different categorizations of catch.
(6.10 – 8.38)
(4.99 – 8.06)
(0.69 – 2.49)
(34.46 – 43.51)
(4.74 - 7.01)
(32.68 - 42.51)
(2.05 - 3.91)
(6.84 - 8.64)
(218 - 467)
(2020 - 2536)
(236 - 361)
(316 - 408)
aReported in tonnes per week (Confidence intervals 0.0275-0.975)
bReported in hundred thousands of PHP per week (Confidence intervals 0.0275-0.975)
Table 4.8. Proportion of gleaning and non-gleaning fishing methods with calculated
change in CPUE.
CPUEcurrent = Reported weekly catch kg / reported person weekly fishing hours typical of
the year interviewed. CPUEfirst = Reported weekly catch kg / reported person weekly
fishing hours typical of the year first using the fishing method in the study community.
“n” relates to reported fishing methods that were categorized by the respondents.
Respondents often had more than one fishing method, so may be represented more than
Figure 4.1. Fishing tracks with the maximum distance calculation method illustrated. Tracks are from fishers in Bilang-bilangan West,
Tubigon, Bohol and are typical of the widespread pattern we found where gleaners stay close to shore and other fishers travel much
Figure 4.2. Standardized coefficients of logistic model of gleaners and linear model of
gleaning effort. This is a graph of the standardized coefficients (dots) and their 95%
confidence intervals (lines) for the logistic and linear models of gleaning participation and
gleaning effort, by a series of explanatory variables. Any variable including its confidence
interval found to the right side of 0 (and not overlapping with 0) indicates it has a
significant positive relationship, while to the left of 0 indicates the opposite. Any variable
with the dot or the confidence interval line overlapping at 0 means the explanatory
variable does not have a significant relationship with the y-variables.
Figure 4.3. Proportion of children that participate in gleaning and non-gleaning fishing
over four age categories. Sample size is 706 children in 236 surveyed households. Adult
data are from community-wide random surveys and fishing method interviews (n = 588).
Figure 4.4. Catch biomass sold and unsold by catch type categories. Proportion labels represent the proportion of the total catch in
each category that was sold. “Other” includes sea stars, seaweeds, and jellyfish. Lukot is seahare egg sacks. Seahares are gastropods,
but we considered lukot separately since it was targeting a different life history stage (eggs) than the other gastropods (adult).
Figure 4.5. Reported reasons for change in catch volume. Gleaners and non-gleaning fishers that reported either a positive or negative
change in their CPUE were asked to explain the reason for the change. The responses were coded into six categories. Categories are
explained below. Gleaners and non-gleaning fishers with positive change calculated as CPUEcurrent > CPUEfirst, and negative changes
are the opposite. CPUEcurrent is the reported weekly catch kg / reported person weekly fishing hours typical of the year interviewed.
CPUEfirst is the same, but for the year first using the fishing method in the study community. Change in fishing strategy includes
change in gear, fishing grounds, and efficiency or skill. Fishing intensification includes illegal fishing, more fishing gears, and
commercialization of fishing. Ecological and climate variables include seasonality, climate change, tides, and animal behaviour. “n”
relates to reported fishing methods that were categorized by the respondents. Respondents often had more than one fishing method, so
may be represented more than once. Fishing methods with no change in CPUE are not included.
5. Gender and Marine Protected Areas: A case study of Danajon Bank,
" ...[S]ubsuming ‘women’ under ‘the community’ masks the distinctiveness of women’s
experiences, and claims to inclusiveness [of all community members] wobble once
questions are asked about who participates, decides and benefits from ‘participatory’
interventions" (Cornwall 2003, pp 1327)
In the past 25 years, community-based management (CBM) of small-scale fisheries has
been adopted in a variety of contexts, with varying success (Sultana and Abeyasekera
2008; McConney and Charles 2010). Critiques of CBM approaches challenge the idea
that communities have homogeneous resource use strategies and share management
priorities (Agrawal and Gibson 1999). Within communities, differences in resource use
and fisheries management priorities are common (Schroeder 1993), and one key
demographic factor explaining differences may be gender (Elmhirst and Resurreccion
Women and men both participate in small-scale fisheries, although often in ecologically
and socially distinct ways (Siar 2003; Béné et al. 2009; Ko et al. 2010; Nordlund and
Gullström 2013; Kleiber et al. 2014b). Beyond their roles in exploitation, women and
men's often distinct involvement in pre- and post- catch labour also ties them tightly to
the sustainable management of fisheries (Overå 1993; Frangoudes and Keromnes 2008;
Deb et al. 2014). Yet women are often absent from community-based small-scale
fisheries management because their role in fisheries is assumed to be negligible or
subsidiary to that of men (Weeratunge et al. 2010; Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). Here,
we will focus on gender in fisheries management, while acknowledging the importance
of other distinct and interacting social categories such as religion, age, ethnicity, class,
and poverty (Hapke 2001; Fabinyi 2007; Harris 2008; Agarwal 2009, 2010; Béné et al.
MPAs have become a central tool in conservation and fisheries management globally
(Jameson et al. 2002; Hilborn 2004; Wood et al. 2008), but little or no reference has been
made to their implications for women (but see Walker and Robinson 2009). The gender
dimension of MPAs touches on three overlapping concerns. First, it is important to
consider the potential effects of MPAs (both positive and negative) on women and men’s
often-distinct target species, fishing practices, and allocation of catch (Hockey and
Bosman 1986; Benzoni et al. 2006; Rajagopalan 2007; Walker and Robinson 2009).
Second, there is the need to acknowledge that MPAs have indirect impacts beyond
personal fishing that may also be distinct by gender. Hence, overall perception of MPAs
by community members is also important to consider. Finally, the roles of women and
men in community-based management, particularly with regard to decision-making for
the MPA, must be examined (Aswani and Weiant 2003; Pajaro et al. 2010; Di Ciommo
and Schiavetti 2012; Clabots 2013).
The placement of community managed MPAs incorporates biological, social, and
political considerations that affect the size of and habitat within the protected area. MPAs
are found in subtidal and intertidal habitats. Gender and the location or site of the MPA
may be important variables in how MPAs affect different fisheries. This is because
women and men in this region often have distinct spatial fishing practices (Chapter 4).
Gleaners, who are primarily women, only fish in intertidal habitats and primarily target
sessile invertebrates. Fishers using other fishing methods, who are primarily men, may
fish in both intertidal and subtidal habitats depending on the tide and gear and primarily
target fish or mobile invertebrates. For example, divers and gleaners may fish in the same
habitats, but at different tide levels.
The value of an MPA as a fisheries management tool for invertebrates (the primary catch
of women) remains unclear. This is particularly true for sessile invertebrate species, for
which little work on MPA impacts has yet been done (but see Benzoni et al. 2006;
Hockey and Bosman 1986). The limited available research shows that MPAs can
improve spill over and larval dispersal of fish and mobile invertebrates (Halpern and
Warner 2002), but that their main role for sessile species may be limited to generating
larvae that disperse (Aswani and Weiant 2004b). MPAs also have the potential to
negatively affect fishers by displacing them from their fishing grounds. Because the value
of MPAs is uncertain for gleaning fisheries, it is not possible to predict whether women
and men differ in their attitudes to how MPAs affect their fishing.
MPAs can provide benefits apart from fishing, so we wish to look beyond direct links to
fishing and engage with potential indirect effects (Yasué et al. 2010). Indirect effects are
also likely to be gender specific. For example at a household level women may perceive
indirect fishing benefits from the improvement of fishing that they do not engage in.
Other possibilities may include alternative livelihoods, which for women may include
providing food for tourist (Clabots 2013). Hence, even if MPA effects for particular
gender specific fisheries are not clear, women and men may still support the MPA at the
same rate, but for potentially different reasons. In this case we would not expect the
placement of the MPA to be an important factor.
Regardless of the perceived direct or indirect benefits, participation in community based
marine management may also be affected by the cultural context that shape how women
and men act and interact in public settings such as management meetings (Agarwal
2010). In many cases women are underrepresented in resource management decision
making, but even if they are very engaged it does not guarantee that all stakeholder
interests are represented (Cornwall 2003). Even when women are encouraged to
participate, they may face cultural barriers that impede public speaking (Di Ciommo and
Schiavetti 2012). Further, women’s inputs may be systematically ignored either by other
community members, or by NGO and state co-managers (Agarwal 1997, 2001; O’Reilly
Our goal here is to examine the relationship between gender, fisheries, and participation
in the community-based management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Danajon
Bank, Central Philippines. MPAs in the Philippines are part of a national strategy to
conserve coastal and fisheries resources (Weeks et al. 2010), and in many cases are
implemented and managed at a community scale (Alcala 1998). Our research makes an
important contribution to the literature that links social and ecological factors in
community-based management. In particular, we focused on how women and men differ
in assessing MPA effectiveness and outcomes. We illuminate a disconnect between
women’s management priorities and MPA management, and discuss what impacts that
may have on the effectiveness of MPAs as community-based management tools.
Our study took place in the Northern Bohol section of the Danajon Bank in the Central
Philippines (Figure 3.1). Danajon Bank consists of many small communities on two
series of atolls, and is also generally considered to embrace the larger terrestrial islands
off the Bohol mainland. Poverty is prevalent throughout this region (Guieb 2008), and
food insecurity is also common (Fabinyi 2012; Chapter 4). Overfishing and destructive
fishing activities such as dynamite, cyanide, and trawling have put tremendous pressure
on local marine ecosystems (Christie et al. 2006).
Our study design included six communities with MPAs that overlapped with gleaning
areas (intertidal habitat), and six communities with MPAs found outside of gleaning areas
(subtidal habitat). Community selection was done to include six intertidal and six subtidal
MPAs. However two cases the boundary of the MPA was either changed to exclude
intertidal habitat, or the MPA was not a no-take area for gleaners. In both cases the MPAs
were re-categorized as subtidal MPAs. All MPAs were actively managed by the
community. Although both women and men used a variety of fishing methods, women
were primarily gleaners in intertidal habitats, while men typically fished in subtidal
habitats by diving or using nets, hooks, or traps (Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3).
We collaborated with a Philippines-based non-governmental organization, Project
Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation (PSF) that has worked in Danajon Bank
communities in various guises and capacities since 1993. PSF supported our research by
providing connections to the local communities, rich advice on approaches and issues,
and access to facilities and equipment. In turn, the results of our study were presented
back to PSF and the study communities to inform ongoing management practices and
The structure and variation of fisheries management in the Philippines is an important
backdrop to understanding MPAs in this region. Marine management is decentralized to
municipal and village levels (Lowry et al. 2005) which can differ greatly in the way they
manage ocean resources (Pomeroy et al. 2010). Some municipalities actively enforce
laws in their municipal waters (D. Kleiber, personal observation) while others lack
appropriate staffing. Community level marine management often takes the form of no-
take MPAs, which in the past have been identified as preferred management measures
(Martin-Smith et al. 2004). MPA monitoring and management is influenced by passing
political powers, and episodic NGO involvement. In some communities, long-term
management of MPAs is done exclusively by elected officials, and paid barangay
workers. In other communities, leaders and members of community groups such as
People’s Organizations, or Fishers’ Organizations may play an active role in MPA
We randomly selected 588 adult interview respondents (here defined as 16 or older) from
the barangay census of each of the twelve communities. The respondent selection was
stratified by gender. We only interviewed respondents who had fished (including
gleaning) at least once in the last year. Where a selected candidate could not be found, we
instead interviewed a family member or neighbour, with the result that sampling was
haphazard (for further detail please see Chapter 1; Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3).
Interviews were done after the study had been explained and verbal consent had been
sought. Filipino research assistants conducted the interview in the local language
(Cebuano), and later translated their notes into English. With the consent of respondents,
we made audio recordings and consulted these to clarify responses, but the interview
notes served as the primary form of data.
To examine the links between gender, fisheries, and MPA perception and management,
we asked the following three questions in each interview:
1. Does the MPA affect your gleaning and/or fishing catch?
2. Would you recommend MPAs to other communities like yours?
3. Do you participate in MPA management meetings?
The questions were developed and translated as a collaborative process between the
senior author and the four local research assistants during a weeklong practice and
training session prior to data collection.
All three questions were followed by an open-ended question of "why or why not?” For
question 1 and 2 the open-ended responses were used to explore the community
perception of the purpose, function, and utility of the MPA. For question 3 the open-
ended responses were used to distinguish between active and passive participation in
MPA meetings and management, as well as examine individual reasons for engagement
with MPA management. We defined active participation as including the following
activities: voicing an opinion in MPA meetings, organizing MPA meetings, educating
others about MPA management, or participating directly in MPA management.
For the open-ended portions of each question, we examined the responses and identified
themes (Braun and Clarke 2008). A single respondent may have included more than one
theme. After themes had been identified and categorized we found 13, 15, and 15 themes
from responses to questions 1, 2, and 3 respectively (Figure 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3). Variations
among the four research assistants and the willingness of respondents to answer certain
questions led to unequal sample sizes among answers.
We also include observations extracted from participant observation and from discussions
about the placement of MPAs in gleaning areas with NGO workers and local leaders.
Three logistic mixed-effects models were used to examine the binary responses to
questions 1-3. The open-ended portion of question 3 was coded for a binary response for
active participation (see Table 5.1 for details), which was included as a fourth model.
Gender (female or male) and MPA placement (intertidal or subtidal), were explanatory
variables in all four models (Table 5.1). We used mix-effects models with community as
a random factor to account for inter-community variation (Gelman and Hill 2007; Zuur et
al. 2009), using the “lme4” R packages (Bates 2010; R Core Team 2013). In two models
(MPA effect on fisheries and active participation), the mean response at the community
level differed significantly from the global mean in half of the communities, indicating
that community was an important factor to include in the model. In the recommendation
model, this was true of five communities and in the participation model this was true of
three communities. For the sake of consistency of interpretation across models we
included community as a random variable in each model.
A χ2 was used to test for differences in the frequency of thematic responses by women
and men to the open-ended portion of the questions.
Fisheries and MPAs
Overall, 46% of respondents felt that the local MPA had an impact on their personal
fishing. However, women were significantly less likely than men to report that the MPA
affected on their fishing (Table 5.1). Respondents’ perception of MPAs did not differ by
whether their MPA was intertidal or subtidal.
Among the respondents who reported that the MPA had an impact on their fishing, most
reported positive effects, but 3% of women and 4% of men commented that the MPA
decreased their fish catch by limiting their fishing grounds (Figure 5.1). Overall women
and men gave different reasons for why the MPA did or did not affect their fishing (χ2
(12, N = 510) = 96.71, p < 0.001). Women who did not perceive an MPA effect on their
fishing said – at four times the rate of men – that the MPA was sited too far from their
fishing grounds (Figure 5.1). Men's most frequent response was that the MPA had a
positive effect on their fishing by protecting fish. Respondents who explained the positive
effect of the MPA on their fishing cited protection of fish far more frequently than
protection of invertebrates (Figure 5.1).
Attitudes to MPAs
Most respondents, regardless of gender or MPA placement, said they would recommend
an MPA to other communities (71%). It was noticeable that very few respondents of
either gender disliked MPAs or felt they were badly managed (Figure 5.2).
Although there was a lot of overlap in the reasons women and men gave for
recommending the MPA, overall there was a significant (p < 0.05) difference (χ2 (14, N =
758) = 25.43, p = 0.03). Both women and men most frequently declared fish protection
and spill over as justification for recommending MPAs (Figure 5.2). Both women and
men also mentioned unspecified current and future benefits to the community. Protection
and spill over of invertebrates was mentioned far less frequently than the protection and
spill over of fish by both women and men. Among those that would not recommend the
MPA, the most common response was that they were too busy to tell other people about
the MPA, or otherwise unwilling to do so (Figure 5.2). However, women were more
likely than men to state that other communities already had MPAs, so there would be no
need to recommend them (Figure 5.2).
Participation in MPA management
Approximately half of the respondents, regardless of gender or MPA placement reported
participating in MPA management meetings. However, only 8% of respondents reported
participating actively in MPA management. Men were more likely to participate actively
than women, but MPA placement did not make a difference (Table 5.1).
Overall women and men gave different reasons for why they did or did not participate in
MPA meetings (χ2 (14, N = 778) = 145.20, p < 0.001), although the most frequent reason
for attending meetings of both women and men was to learn about the rules and current
status of the MPA. The second most common reason for women was out of obligation as
a member of the MPA organization, fisher co-op, or community. In contrast for men the
second most commonly expressed reason for attending a meeting was as part of their
active participation in the management of the MPA (Figure 5.3).
Among those that did not attend meetings, both women and men cited lack of
membership in the community level organization that oversees the MPA as the top reason
they did not attend. However, the second most common reason women gave for non-
attendance was that they were not a man or a fisher2. While both men and women cited
age and recent immigration to the community as reasons for not attending, no male
respondents used gender to explain their lack of attendance. Lower frequency responses
also illustrated important differences between women and men. For example, 3% of
women that attended reported being there as a substitute for their husband but only one
man (0.34%) reported substituting for a female family member. Among those that did not
attend MPA meetings the opposite was true: 5% of men stated that they sent a substitute,
while no women claimed to send a substitute (Figure 5.3).
Observations of resistance
Although respondents were mostly supportive of MPAs, we observed and were also told
about women who resisted MPA rules, or successfully moved MPA boundaries to
exclude their fishing grounds from the protected areas. In one study community, the
landward MPA boundary was moved from the shore to beyond the intertidal areas, solely
to allow for gleaning. This was seen as particularly important as the two neighbouring
MPAs also encompassed gleaning areas. The community leader explained “Both
communities to each side of us had an MPA in their gleaning area, we changed ours so
that [our] people could have a place to get food”.
2 We interviewed people that had fished (including gleaning) in the past year, but local
definitions of fishing, and occupational definitions of fishers often exclude gleaning and
The theme of food security was also found to justify opening MPAs to gleaning in a
different community. In one case, community members described the MPA as being open
to gleaning in times of hardship, which would reframe the MPA from a no-take zone to a
temporal closure with a stated objective of mitigating vulnerability to food and economic
insecurity. However other members stated that the MPA was closed to all fishing
including gleaning, indicating disagreement or ambiguity regarding the rules. While we
were in this community we witnessed gleaning within the clearly marked MPA
boundaries. Depending on the interpretation of the rules the gleaning could be a
sanctioned exception to the no-take rule, or simply a lack of compliance. In another case,
we were told of women organizing to stop the placement of an MPA in the community’s
gleaning area. By participating in an MPA planning meeting as a group, they were
effectively able to negotiate for the placement of the MPA outside their fishing areas (L.
Rosario, personal communication).
Gender was an important variable in the perceived effect of the MPA on fishing, and in
the quality of participation in community-based management of MPAs. The results from
our study suggest that MPAs were probably created and are primarily managed with
men’s fisheries in mind. While the placement of MPAs included intertidal and subtidal
habitats, the siting of the MPA did not affect how women viewed or participated in the
management of the MPA. However, overall women were less likely to actively
participate in the management of MPAs, and MPAs were largely characterized as a fish
management tool, but not an invertebrate management tool.
Much of the work on gender and protected areas focuses on the displacement of women
from key resource areas (Agarwal 2010). In our study and in other studies of MPAs, the
theme of displacement of women is not as clear. In our study few people of either gender
mentioned being displaced from their fishing grounds, and in a spatial study in of the
effects of no-take MPAs on the distance women and men travel to fish in French
Polynesia, no gender difference was found either (Walker and Robinson 2009). However,
in India, female seaweed fishers were displaced by the Gulf of Mannar National Park
Women’s support for MPAs, even though fewer women than men perceived personal
benefit to fishing, may arise from women’s perceptions that the MPA benefited fishing
by their male relatives or had other social merits (Yasué et al. 2010). It's important to
note that while we examine the perceived effects of MPAs on women and men’s fishing,
the gender distinction in fishing practices is not absolute: many fishers use more than one
fishing method and approximately 20% of women fish from boats, and 50% of men glean
(Kleiber et al. 2014b; Chapter 3). Hence, a future examination of the effects of no-take
MPAs on gleaning would be relevant to the majority of fishers. It would also be
important to consider other spatially limited fisheries such as hook and line fishers that do
not use an engine.
Discussion of the displacement of gleaning often included an emphasis of gleaning as a
source of food security, as well as a characterization of gleaners as poor, or underserved.
Hence, the permeability of MPAs to gleaning in certain communities may reflect the
populist appeal of the use of the catch (subsistence) and the identity of the fishers (poor
and often female). Gleaning in MPAs may also reflect forms of traditional spatial
management used in these areas called sitio sitios (Guieb 2008). Fishing in these areas
were generally restricted to specific families, but gleaning and other forms of non-
destructive subsistence fishing were tolerated. The permeability of MPAs to gleaning was
also described as a method to relieve hunger during times of hardship.
Management meetings were often characterized as being a predominantly male space. On
the surface this is somewhat surprising since equal numbers of women and men stated
that they participated in MPA meetings. Similarly in a study in the same region of the
Central Philippines women were sometimes observed making up 70-80% of attendees at
fisheries outreach meetings (Clabots 2013). This was not found to be true in other
contexts in Brazil (Di Ciommo and Schiavetti 2012) and the Caribbean (Smith 2012),
where women made up a smaller portion of all people attending community marine
management planning meetings. However, even in cases where women made up half, or
even the majority of attendees, it is not certain that this would translate into active
participation in decision making. In Brazil women felt uncomfortable voicing their
opinions in the male dominated space (Di Ciommo and Schiavetti 2012). In the
Caribbean, women’s perceived lack of participation in fisheries was thought to explain
their lower participation in management (Smith 2012). We heard similar sentiments in
our study when one female respondent explained: “Men would be best to participate in
meetings because it's about their fishing.” Through the interviews many also expressed
that they attended to represent their husbands, or as one women said: “We listen for our
husbands.” This suggests lack of active participation, and a prioritization of their
husband’s management priorities. Hence, in this framework where women’s fisheries and
management needs are invisible, their participation is also subsidiary.
Lack of membership in the MPA organization was a frequently cited factor for not
participating. In some communities, the MPA organization overlaps with the Fishers or
People’s Organization. Fishers collectives may be especially characterized as male
spaces, and often only include fishers that use particular types of gear, excluding women
and their fisheries, as well as men. In other cases, elected officials of the community,
headed by the barangay captain, manage the MPAs. Women hold positions as elected
officials, but often in smaller numbers. Elected officials are also often members of the
local elite. Women may be represented in decision-making, but not at a level that reflects
the diversity or even the norm of women or men’s resource use and management
priorities3. Hence, the mechanisms of participation may need to be examined for their
potential to be exclusionary.
In our study we did not find any evidence of women’s groups being actively involved in
MPA management, but they have been found to be key participants in other contexts. For
example, in the Solomon islands, an all women’s group was formed to plan, manage, and
collect data on an MPA that was designed specifically for their fisheries – predominantly
shell collection while gleaning (Aswani and Weiant 2004b). In a study of the community
creation of MPA objectives and success indicators in the central Philippines, women’s
groups were consulted as well as other key demographic groups (Pajaro et al. 2010). In
this example, women’s fishing was not necessarily a key consideration, although
women’s groups did not differ very much from other groups in their stated objectives and
indicators for the MPA. In another study from the central Philippines, the management of
3 While MPA management is characterized as a male sphere, there are other areas at the
community scale where men are excluded to their detriment. For example health care is
seen as a female sphere, which may limit men’s access to reproductive health options (L.
D’Agnes 2010, personal communication).
MPAs in two communities known to have high levels of women’s involvement found
that the participation of women's groups was a key factor in the creation and maintenance
of the community MPA (Clabots 2013).
A greater inclusion of women and their concerns might contribute to improved MPA
implementation and management in general. In a review of collective natural resource
management where the factor of gender was explicitly examined, Westermann et al.
(2005) found that: "collaboration, solidarity, and conflict resolution all increase in groups
where women are present. In addition, norms of reciprocity are more likely to operate in
women’s and mixed groups." The inclusion of women as decision makers has in some
cases been found to increase the overall participation of women in community meetings,
and increase the advocacy for needs that are directly relevant to women’s lives
(Chattopadhyay and Duflo 2004). Conversely, the absence of women may have direct
negative impacts on the success of resource management projects. For example, in
Tuvalu when women weren’t made aware of a Trochus (mollusk) reintroduction project,
they inadvertently fished the animals, leading to the project’s early failure (Seniloli et al.
2002). Finally, if women’s resource management needs are not represented, rules that
they have not agreed to may place a disproportionate burden on their resource use
By focusing on gender we have highlighted links between social and ecological factors
associated with effective resource management at a community and ecosystem scale. In
this and other contexts it is important to acknowledge stakeholders should include all
community members that rely on marine resources for their subsistence and livelihood,
including those primarily involved in the processing and marketing of marine resources
(Overå 1993; Andrew et al. 2007; Tindall and Holvoet 2008). Livelihood approaches
may highlight important and potentially underrepresented groups. For example, a
livelihood and gender approach to Tanzania fisheries management found that female
fisher traders were excluded from formal fisheries management structures (Fröcklin et al.
Community-based management may fail when diverse and potentially conflicting
management priorities are not represented in decision making groups (Agrawal and
Gibson 1999). Based on our findings it is clear that a focus on gender and consideration
of gender roles and role expectations should begin in the early planning stages of MPA
development both to include a wider diversity of stakeholder needs at the very beginning.
Definitions of fishing that do not include gleaning mask the participation of most women
and many men and exclude them as stakeholders, even though they may be directly
affected depending on where the MPA is placed. Management would benefit from
considering the flexibility of MPA rules to local needs, and particularly to issues of food
security. This is of particular concern to women, given their socially proscribed roles in
the domestic sphere. We found two cases where the MPA had either shifted from no-take
zones to periodic closures, or had reverted to open access. Spatial marine management in
this area had traditionally included flexibility of access to subsistence fishers (Guieb
Table 5.1. Four logistic mixed effect models examining 1) the perceived effect of MPAs
on personal fishing, 2) whether respondents would recommend MPAs to other
communities, 3) participation and 4) active participation in MPA meetings.
Independent Variables Coefficient
Subtidal MPA f
MPA effect on personal fishing a
Recommendation of MPA b
Participation in MPA meetings c
Active participation in MPA meetings d
a This is a binary response to the question "Does the MPA affect your gleaning and/or
b This is a binary response to the question "Would you recommend MPAs to other
communities like yours?"
c This is a binary response to the question "Do you participate in MPA management
d Active participation is a binary variable.
e Baseline is female response
f Baseline is intertidal MPAs.
g Community is used as a random effect to account for inter-community variation.
* p < 0.05, **, p < 0.001
Figure 5.1. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Does the MPA
have an impact on your fishing? Why or why not? Proportions were calculated by gender
and grouped into A. Positive effects (+), B. No effects (=), and C. Negative effects (-).
Respondents could give more than one answer.
Figure 5.2. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Would you
recommend an MPA to other communities like yours? Why or why not? Proportions
were calculated by gender and grouped into A. Positive answers (Yes), and B. Negative
answers (No). Respondents could give more than one answer.
Figure 5.3. Proportion of the coded answers to the open-ended question "Do you
participate in MPA meetings? Why or why not? Proportions were calculated by gender
and grouped into A. Positive answers (Yes), and B. Negative answers (No). Respondents
could give more than one answer.
Chapter 6 - Conclusion
“Any omission of a gender focus in fisheries decision-making can be said to
automatically mean that 50% of the required analysis has been simply forgotten”
My thesis counted women fishers. It turns out that doing so matters tremendously,
whether for estimates of total catch or for understanding food security and social aspects
of conservation. Moreover, I measured what women do in fishing, which is a rare
endeavor in the field of fisheries research. The inclusion of women leads to other broader
and exciting implications. It lays bare the need to define, and in many cases redefine,
fishing and reexamine catch. It drives us to take a new look at what fishing gives a
family. And it moves us to reimagine management. Engaging with all these new
dimensions reveals not only women’s contributions, but also new dimensions of men’s
fishing. It also extends our understanding of the role of fishing in communities and in the
marine ecosystem. I now explore the key questions I probed in this thesis.
1. What is the current understanding of women’s participation in small-scale
fisheries from an ecological perspective, and what are the main data gaps?
From the small but growing research on women’s fishing I analyzed in the review
(Chapter 2), it is clear that gender roles in small-scale fisheries are diverse and dynamic.
In a variety of geographic contexts women’s fisheries are often spatially confined to
intertidal habitats, with catches dominated by sessile macro invertebrates. While this
pattern is far from universal, it certainly appears in my case study of the Central
Philippines presented (Chapter 3 and 4). The review offered descriptions of women’s
fishing methods, as well as the animals and marine habitats they exploit. Such an
overview suggests that women and men often occupy different ecological roles in the
marine ecosystem. However, the review also revealed a quantitative data gap, which
limits understanding the contribution women’s fisheries make to catch, effort, and
2. How does the inclusion of women’s fishing change the characterization of
community-wide fishing practices and the quantification of total catch and effort?
Small-scale fisheries catch and effort estimates are often built on recognizably
incomplete data. Such deficiencies are magnified when you consider that the estimates
also often completely overlook contributions from women’s fishing. My study
determined that including women increased the estimated number of fishers, the fishing
effort and the catch biomass. Women constituted 42% of all fishers and were
cumulatively responsible for 25% of the total fishing effort and 25% of catch mass
(Chapter 3). Almost all women that we interviewed were involved in gleaning (gathering
of benthic macro invertebrates in intertidal areas), usually as their only fishing method.
Gleaning catch mostly consists of sessile and slow moving invertebrates such as shells,
urchins, and sea cucumber. These animals weren’t caught as often by divers or by fishers
using hook and line, traps, or nets. Narrow definitions of fishing that exclude gleaning
and part-time fishing serve to mask the participation and contribution of most women
fishers - and hide notable extraction from the ocean. For fisheries to be more
comprehensively understood – in terms of number of fishers, fishing effort, catch
biomass, and diversity of organisms removed – it is vital that we include women, part-
time fishers, and gleaners.
3. What contribution does gleaning make to economic and food security aspects of
My results from Chapter 4 show the substantial economic and food security contribution
of gleaning. After first estimating the total economic value of weekly catch, and
kilograms of catch retained for food, I found that gleaning contributed 13% and 27% to
those categories respectively. The importance of gleaning as a source of food security
was also emphasized when I examined the social attributes of gleaning versus non-
gleaning fishers. As I found in Chapter 3, gleaners were predominantly women, but they
were also more likely to be fishers that retained all their catch for family consumption
and also more likely to be from families that had lower levels of food security. For each
fishing method used, respondents were asked if they had ever experienced catching
nothing. Gleaners – when compared to non-gleaning fishers – more frequently stated that
they always found some catch. The reliability of gleaning, and the reports that gleaning is
often done when other forms of fishing are unavailable, add to its importance for food
security. Finally gleaners also fished closer to home than other fishers, which may partly
reflect women’s other responsibilities – and is important to consider in the spatial
management of fisheries.
4. What role does gender play in the management of local marine resources through
community-based marine protected areas?
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a common tool in marine conservation and fisheries
management, but the relationship among women’s fishing, MPAs and women’s
participation in marine resource management is not well understood. By using open-
ended questions regarding fishing, MPAs, and participation in MPA meetings, I found
that MPAs were generally perceived to be a management tool for men’s fishing and the
finfish that they primarily target (Chapter 5). Women were less likely than men to report
that the MPA had a positive effect on their fishing activities. The corollary is that
respondents more frequently cited the benefits of the MPA to finfish fisheries than to
invertebrate catches. Further, although an equal number of women and men reported
attending MPA meetings, women were less likely to describe active participation in
MPA management, including decisions making, educating others about the MPA, and
monitoring the MPA. Women’s participation was also often characterized as being on
behalf of their husbands. Such differences may explain why we found some evidence of
women resisting MPA rules and challenging spatial management that put limits on their
fishing practices. Such was their resistance that there were a few cases where MPAs were
reshaped to exclude key gleaning areas. My findings lead to the conclusion that women’s
fisheries are often overlooked in MPA management. Such a deficiency may lead to lower
compliance by women, among other outcomes. The net impact of alienating women may
be to diminish the effectiveness of the MPAs as a conservation and fisheries management
Gender and fisheries
My research provides important data and also a road map for how future fisheries and
conservation research might more effectively include women. Women’s fishing is still
overlooked, both globally and in Bohol (Chapter 2, 3, and 5). In the Danajon Bank region
there is an emerging body of research on fisheries and marine management. Women and
their fishing are sometimes mentioned but often not included in qualitative or
quantitative assessments of fisheries in this area (Green et al. 2004). It seemed to me that
women’s fishing might be overlooked because fishing is culturally characterized as a
male activity, with this assumption perpetuated by resource users, managers, and
researchers. Attempts have been made to include women in data collection, but have
often failed due to lack of training in gender data gathering techniques (S. Sayson,
My findings – most notably that more than one quarter of the total effort and catch mass
can be attributed to women’s fishing activities – leads us to seek more understanding
about women’s participation in fishing elsewhere in the Philippines (Illo and Polo 1990;
Siar 2003; Eder 2005) and globally (Chapter 2). The small number of studies that do
quantify women’s catch are all found in the Oceania region, and the calculated
contribution of women to the total catch can vary wildly; from 0-48% (Bliege Bird 2007;
Kronen and Vunisea 2007). Given the variation from the small number of geographically
similar case studies available, a global estimate is untenable at this time. What is clear is
that women’s fisheries are still often overlooked and that the inclusion of women could
generate a more useful understanding of the productivity of marine ecosystems and the
totality of human extraction.
Recognition of the diversity of animals and habitats exploited by women’s fishing and
gleaning should have a material effect on local marine management (Chapter 3 and 4).
Fisheries and conservation research in this region have largely focused on finfish
abundance and coral cover. Invertebrates, and in particular sessile invertebrates, have
been overlooked. There a great need for research on population responses by a wide
diversity of marine arthropods, echinoderms, and molluscs that are important to
subsistence fishers. There are deficiencies for habitats, too: marine protected areas and
other management measures in the region have focused heavily on corals. Much more
attention needs to be paid to the habitats where gleaning occurs, such as rocky flats,
seagrasses, and mangroves. On Danajon Bank, no real effort has been made to evaluate
and support intertidal areas or seagrasses, even though these are the core habitats that
women fish. Too little attention has also been given to mangroves, which some women in
my study fished. Encouragingly, there are new efforts to redress the historic loss of
mangrove forests in the region (Walters 2004). Such mangrove recovery projects are
often framed in terms of coastal management, and nursery areas for fish species, but they
may help support important habitat for gleaners.
Gleaning is an important fishery for livelihood, and particularly food security (Chapter
4). While gleaning and women’s fisheries in general are often characterized as secondary
to men’s fishing, and often described diminutively as “helping”, gleaning effort
contributes 27% of the total subsistence catch (i.e. catch that was not sold, but eaten by
the family of the fisher). When we asked why people gleaned many fishers described it
as secondary to other fishing methods, but also an important back-up source of food
when bad weather made subtidal fishing unavailable. Hence, while gleaning may not be
the primary source of money or food, it is still a cornerstone of many household
Women fishers – primarily gleaners – perceive and play little or no role in marine
protected areas (MPAs), the primary management tools used in the region. The
perception is that MPAs were primarily directed at men’s fisheries (Chapter 5). This
should be framed within the history of decentralized marine management in the
Philippines. Because the law determines that marine management must happen at a
community level, the understanding of women’s marine management needs and their
inclusion in decision-making should be done at the community scale. Rather than the
current model of women resisting or changing current rules, a better solution would be to
include women and their fisheries in management planning from the outset (Clabots
2013), but being careful not to exploit women’s labour, or assume women to be a
Although my research focuses on one small geographic region – and thus is somewhat
context specific – it has global implications. It is true that all the communities in my
study were island communities, and half of them were also very small islands with often
few options for alternative livelihoods, and strong reliance on fisheries resources.
Livelihood approaches in other contexts may have to take into account other sources of
income and food such as farming, vending, and within a Philippines context, remittance
from family members working abroad (Guieb 2008; Hill 2011). On the other hand, the
division labour by gender I documented had been found elsewhere around the world
(Chapman 1987; Frangoudes et al. 2008; Nordlund and Gullström 2013). Moreover, the
conservation and management context of the central Philippines has much in common
with other areas: there are great declines in biodiversity and resource availability and
considerable commitment by conservation groups – often accompanied by government
inertia or lack of attention – to mitigate such declines. Thus, the lessons I learned, and
techniques I developed to evaluate women’s contributions should be quite broadly
applicable to a variety of geographic contexts.
Broader implications and research directions
Taken together my research findings have implications for both current understanding of
small-scale fisheries and suggestions for framing future research. For example small-
scale fisheries are often missing from assessments of illegal, unregulated, and unreported
fisheries (IUU) which is often used to characterize the data gaps in global assessments of
catch mass (Metuzals et al. 2010). Small-scale fisheries often fall in both the
“unreported” and “unregulated” categories (Zeller et al. 2007) but are still often left out
of IUU assessments, most of which focus on commercial or high seas contexts. Any
rigorous inclusion of small-scale fisheries in assessment is often missing, leading to
underestimations of these contributions. Even in the infrequent cases where small-scale
fisheries are included, women’s contributions are seldom understood, let alone included.
My research identifies methods that could be used to integrate and evaluate the fishing of
both women and men into small-scale fisheries research. An integrated socio-ecological
approach to small-scale fisheries should be taken to capture the interacting spheres of the
marine ecosystem, and the human social system. More specifically researchers must shift
their starting point to begin with the assumption that women do fish, rather than the more
common assumption that they do not, then take the necessary steps to include them. This
includes data sampling stratified by gender because both women and men are less likely
to identify women as fishers. Moreover, greater attention to subsistence catch, which
may not be accounted for in surveys of commercial ports, would be necessary, although
would require greater effort to document. And finally, greater attention to sessile
invertebrates and their roles in the marine ecosystem would be needed.
Avenues of future research should include understanding the utility of MPAs as a
fisheries management tool for invertebrate species targeted by women and gleaners, and
the identification of other management tools that have worked in other contexts. MPAs
have been successful for sessile invertebrates fisheries in some cases where local
ecological knowledge of source populations were used to place the MPA (Aswani and
Weiant 2004a). In other cases, fast growing invertebrates such as octopus have been
managed by temporal closures (Cripps and Harris 2009), which are also used more
generally throughout the Pacific (Cohen and Foale 2013). Limiting entry with territorial
use right for fisheries (TURFS) has worked for divers of commercially valuable species
(Moreno et al. 2007), but may be harder to enforce with large numbers of subsistence
One avenue of future research would be greater attention to the social value placed on
fisheries as a source of food or income, and how this translates into management.
Traditional spatial management used in this area in the past has consisted of family
ownership of particular fishing grounds. Owners would often allow subsistence fishers,
both gleaners and single hook and line fishers, to fish in these fishing grounds (Guieb
2008). Such permissiveness may, in effect, occur in today’s MPAs: lack of compliance or
changing the boundary of no-take MPA to exclude subsistence-fishing grounds is often
explained away in terms of food security (Chapter 5).
My findings challenge the prioritization of men’s fisheries and concerns in MPA
management, and encourage a deliberate integration of women’s resource use and issues
in community decision-making. There may, of course, be numerous cultural and political
barriers to the full inclusion of women and other minority groups into decision making
(Cornwall 2003; Agarwal 2010). Such obstacles have been explored within the larger
literature on natural resource management at the community level, which has been
examined in forestry, agricultural, and water use contexts (O’Reilly 2008; Agarwal
2010). Future research and adaptive management approaches could assess the promise
and limitations of single gender resource management groups in fisheries, as has been
examined in other natural resource management contexts (Agarwal 2010).
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justifiably claim to contribute distinctively to fisheries management as a whole. Through
my work, it becomes ever more obvious that inclusion of women’s fishing is vital if we
are to understand the diversity and totality of small-scale fishing pressure on the marine
ecosystem, and to understand the social dynamics that shape human fisheries. My
gender-based approach, in which both women and men are explicitly included, forces a
broader consideration of fisheries that should materially affect ecosystem approaches to
ocean management. It becomes inevitable that fisheries management and conservation
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