Talanoa Consulting

Global review throws light on gender-based violence in fisheries

Press release

Talanoa Consulting updates

A new study published today in Fish and Fisheries argues that gender-based violence (GBV) cannot be separated from other actions taken to achieve equitable social outcomes through fisheries management.

UN Women defines gender-based violence as any act of violence against a person or group of individuals based on their gender, and includes physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological threats, harassment, coercion, or any other deprivations of liberty.

Globally, there has been increased attention on understanding and integrating gender dimensions in fisheries. However, the intersection between fisheries and gender-based violence has received much less attention. 

To better understand the issue, four gender and fisheries experts conducted a global review of capture fisheries and identified five types of gender-based violence ‒ these were physical, sexual, psychological, economic and cultural violence. 

Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai, an Industry Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Fijian Consultant with Talanoa Consulting and Pew marine fellow said, the term ‘gender-based’ is used when violence is shaped by gender roles and expectations, power and status in society. 

There is a general misconception that gender-based violence is not relevant to fisheries or a topic that practitioners have a responsibility to address. Our paper shows there are a variety of activities associated with these forms of violence in the fisheries sector, such as labour and human rights abuses, unsafe working and living conditions for children, women and men, and the cultural acceptance of various forms of discrimination,” said Dr Mangubhai. 

The authors argue that GBV cannot be separated from other actions taken to achieve equitable social outcomes through fisheries management, and therefore it is incumbent on fisheries practitioners and policy makers to address this in their sector. 

UTS Professor Kate Barclay, co-author of the study, said, “If those working in fisheries are not aware of how gender-based violence can occur in their sector, they can unintentionally reinforce or perpetuate different forms of violence through policies and practices.”

Key recommendations to address gender-based violence

Rather than just focus on the problem and leave fisheries practitioners and policy makers overwhelmed or unclear on what to do about it, the authors provide seven recommendations to help work towards addressing gender-based violence in capture fisheries. 

These recommendations are: 

  • Remove gender blindness and bias by investing in gender-sensitisation of the sector;  
  • Form strategic partnerships with organisations with expertise in gender-based violence; 
  • Improve policy and coordination between regulatory bodies especially in the areas of prevention and protection; 
  • Increase investments in labour rights and laws to protect those working in capture fisheries throughout the value chains; 
  • Gender integrative programme design and implementation; 
  • Invest in specific programs for the empowerment of women; and 
  • Invest in specific programs for men seeking healthy models of masculinity.


The study finds that gender-based violence is not a stand-alone topic and should be dealt with in conjunction with other pressing issues such resource depletion, climate change, poverty, and unemployment. Holistic and interconnected fisheries interventions and management is critical to socially equitable, sustainable fisheries and is an opportunity for the sector to contribute to the sustainable development goals.

How was the study conducted?

The research was conducted through a collaboration with the UTS Climate, Society and Environment Research Centre (C-SERC). C-SERC researchers investigate the social, political, and economic aspects of challenges facing the natural world that are transforming the way we live. In starting a conversation among practitioners and researchers about gender-based violence in fisheries, this paper aligns with C-SERC and UTS’ agenda of pursuing social justice in research.

The research is supported by the Pacific Community (SPC) through the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) programme. Investigating nuanced forms of gender-based violence in fisheries to better understand linkages to the sector at small and large scale, including informal and formal contexts, PEUMP is committed to shed light on this blurred and often ignored issue with future research investment planned on GBV in fisheries in selected countries in the Pacific region.

The Pew Charitable Trusts provided funding to Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai as part of her Pew marine fellowship.

Full paper:

Mangubhai S, Barclay KM, Lawless S, Makhoul N (2023) Gender-based violence: Relevance for fisheries practitioners. Fish and Fisheries. 00: 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12747

Photo: Sangeeta Mangubhai