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Keywords:

  • Ecosystem-scale management;
  • gender;
  • small-scale fisheries;
  • women

Abstract

Marine ecosystem–scale fisheries research and management must include the fishing effort of women and men. Even with growing recognition that women do fish, there remains an imperative to engage in more meaningful and relevant gender analysis to improve socio-ecological approaches to fisheries research and management. The implications of a gender approach to fisheries have been explored in social approaches to fisheries, but the relevance of gender analysis for ecological understandings has yet to be fully elaborated. To examine the importance of gender to the understanding of marine ecology, we identified 106 case studies of small-scale fisheries from the last 20 years that detail the participation of women in fishing (data on women fishers being the most common limiting factor to gender analysis). We found that beyond gender difference in fishing practices throughout the world, the literature reveals a quantitative data gap in the characterization of gender in small-scale fisheries. The descriptive details of women's often distinct fishing practices nonetheless provide important ecological information with implications for understanding the human role in marine ecosystems. Finally, we examined why the data gap on women's fishing practices has persisted, detailing several ways in which commonly used research methods may perpetuate biased sampling that overlooks women's fishing. This review sheds light on a new aspect of the application of gender research to fisheries research, with an emphasis on ecological understanding within a broader context of interdisciplinary approaches.