Wednesday, 08 September 2021
Charles Darwin University
Women drying small pelagic fish near Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara province.
Women drying small pelagic fish near Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara province.

Subsistence fishing vulnerable in the Komodos, research finds

Research carried out by a PhD candidate from Charles Darwin University (CDU) highlights the vulnerability of specialised fishing in eastern Indonesia.

CDU Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods PhD candidate Emily Gibson said her work explores the intersection of gender, food, and nutrition security in the context of small-scale fisheries and coastal communities in the Indo-Pacific.

“My research uncovered diverse and gendered livelihood patterns in three specialised fishing communities that are exploiting a multi-species fishery near Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara province,” Ms Gibson said.

“I found that specialised fishing communities are vulnerable to cyclical changes in the availability of fish and local consumption patterns. They’re also susceptible to fluctuations in far-distant markets, as has been experienced with the collapse of tourism and higher-value export markets during the pandemic,” she said.

Small-scale fisheries are widely regarded as providing important livelihood opportunities in rural coastal communities across the coastal tropics. As well as income earned directly from fishing and fish-related livelihoods, fish also boost the quality of diets by providing a crucial source of protein, micronutrients and lipids.

But in Indonesia there is little understanding of gendered livelihoods in specialised fishing communities, even though it is a major fish-producing country where a quarter of all poor households rely on fishing

“I found that most households were entirely dependent on fishing for their income. My research also provides an insight into the scope of women’s unpaid work and the challenges of supporting greater livelihood opportunities in small remote communities where a downturn in catch impacts cash incomes across whole communities,” she said.

Ms Gibson was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Scholarship. The research study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at Charles Darwin University. The Indonesian Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education provided research clearance with sponsorship from the Research Centre for Society and Culture, Indonesia Institute of Sciences and approvals from participating communities.