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Research targets fisheries livelihoods in Indonesia

By Leanne Miles

RIEL Senior Research Fellow Natasha Stacey said the project aimed to better understand the role of women in small-scale fisheries RIEL Senior Research Fellow Natasha Stacey said the project aimed to better understand the role of women in small-scale fisheries

A new collaborative research project will aim to evaluate the contribution of small-scale fisheries to household livelihoods in eastern Indonesia and review the roles of women.

The project is led by Murdoch University Professor Neil Loneragan in partnership with Charles Darwin University’s Dr Natasha Stacey and is funded through the Australia Government Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods Senior Research Fellow Natasha Stacey said the project aimed to better understand the role of women in small-scale fisheries.

“Small-scale fisheries (SSFs) make a significant contribution to the livelihoods of households in remote coastal communities,” Dr Stacey said. “Global figures indicate that SSFs employ more than 90 per cent of the world’s capture fisheries, which is estimated at 350 million people.”

She said that sustaining current marine-based livelihoods and developing new activities outside established livelihoods in coastal populations posed significant social, economic and cultural challenges.

“Many attempts have been made to develop new livelihoods for coastal communities, but the documentation of these initiatives, particularly their successes and failures is poor,” she said.

“We aim to identify initiatives that have had positive impacts on improving the lives of women and households for future applied research and development.

“We will also investigate cases where attempts have been made to enhance the livelihoods of SSF communities by strengthening or diversifying existing livelihoods or introducing alternative ones.”

Dr Stacey said that the number of women involved in the SSF and aquaculture sectors in Indonesia was largely unknown, but could be up to 50 per cent or more of the people engaged in fisheries in Indonesia.

“There are significant gaps in understanding women’s roles in fisheries and the implications that has for poverty alleviation, development policy and management,” she said.

“The key outcomes from this research will be an improved understanding of the nature and benefits of SSF to local communities in general and to women in particular, and the opportunities (and constraints) in developing livelihood improvement strategies.”