Chapter 8 - Women in sea cucumber fisheries and aquaculture—Can we make their participation equal and fair?

Elsevier, The World of Sea Cucumbers, 2023, pp 109-122
Choo P.-S.

Women from egalitarian communities are known to have harvested sea cucumbers as early as the 16th century in the Asia Pacific region. For centuries, these communities roamed the seas bordering Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Women mainly gleaned in shallow coastal areas, although some were known to dive for sea cucumbers as well. Today, women, mainly from poor coastal communities, still harvest sea cucumbers in the shallow waters, while men dive for them in the deeper regions. Being an open-access resource, many sea cucumber resources around the world have been poorly regulated and overfished, and resources in the shallow coastal areas have greatly diminished, thus marginalizing women who depend on them for subsistence or income that they so badly need. In our patriarchal society, the roles played by men and women are dictated by their gender. Men tend to dominate the most lucrative sectors of fishing and women are relegated to low-paying jobs and fishing in coastal waters for low-value species where resources are diminishing. In aquaculture too, women normally are involved with the lowest-paid and lowest-skilled jobs. Many women aspire to free themselves from these inequalities. This chapter reviews the current situation and proposes ways to provide equitable access for women to achieve their aspirations and do away with gender constructs that have denied them a fair share of sea cucumber resources.