Western Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science

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The role of women in community-based small-scale fisheries management: the case of the southern Madagascar octopus fishery

Kame Westerman, Sophie Benbow


Ensuring that benefits from natural resource management initiatives are shared amongst both men and women is crucial to achieving long-term conservation objectives. In southwest Madagascar, community-managed temporary closures of octopus (Octopus cyanea) fisheries have become a popular approach to resource management, and have been shown to increase catches with lasting results.  Women account for well over half of octopus fishers regionally, and are heavily influenced by efforts to manage the resource.  We assess the role of gender in this fisheries management initiative, comparing fisheries landings for men and women over a seven-year period, and assessing female involvement in the management process through a series of focus groups and workshop discussions. Our findings show that, while both genders benefit from the fisheries management initiative, men tend to harvest bigger octopus and dominate reserve management discourse and decision-making. We discuss these findings in relation to other natural resource management initiatives and recommend strategies to ensure better integration of women in octopus fishery management.


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