#WorldOceansDay – gender and the oceans

This #WorldOceansDay we want to celebrate our academics who are working on understanding gender roles and how this impacts both the individual and society in coastal communities. In this post we introduce you to four researchers who are all working on different aspects of the influence gender has on roles, livelihoods and wellbeing within coastal communities.

 

Dr Tomas Chaigneau

Lecturer in Social Sciences for our Environment at the University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) in Cornwall.

I am a social scientist who studies the relationship between the natural environment and peoples’ wellbeing. This involves understanding how individuals derive wellbeing from the coast but also how their actions can impact their adjacent environment. Through an interdisciplinary approach, I explore how conservation and natural resource management measures are contributing to wellbeing and poverty alleviation. In particular, the disaggregated and gendered nature of this work uncovers important trade-offs between the needs and wants of different individuals within communities and environmental management. This work seeks to find ways to reconcile these whilst minimising negative consequences for current and future generations.

You can find out more about Tomas’ research here

http://www.espa-spaces.org/

https://www.blue-communities.org/Home

https://www.navigating-complexity.com/home

Follow him on Twitter: @Tomas_Chaigneau

 

Dr Madeleine Gustavsson

Research Fellow at the Univeristy of ExeterMedical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research focuses on fishing families and communities – particularly concentrating on the small-scale fishing sector. I hold an ESRC New Investigator research grant titled: “Exploring the changing role(s), identities and wellbeing of women in small-scale fishing families.” The study focuses on how women in both the UK and Newfoundland, Canada, are sustaining small-scale fishing families. The project’s main goal is to investigate the role of women in responding to financial pressures in the fishing sector and to understand what this means to these women in terms of identity and wellbeing. 

We’ll be collecting data by interviewing people and listening to their experiences. This kind of research is called a qualitative study and our participants are the experts. We listen to their voices so we can include their knowledge in our research. We will talk to women about their experiences in the forefront of fishing businesses, and also learn about their roles in areas related to fishing—such as working in fish processing, markets, and restaurants

In the coming year we will conduct semi-structured interviews with policy makers and government representatives in the UK. We will explore how women can be supported by future fishing policies, particularly those following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

A further goal of the project is to establish a UK-wide network for women in fishing families. The Women in Fishing Network will help women to connect with each other, share experiences, and offer support.

More information is available here.

You can find out more about Madeleine on the Exeter website or on google scholar.

Follow her on Twitter: @mcgustavsson

Timur Jack-Kadioglu

PhD researcher at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

My research, part of the UKRI GCRF Blue Communities Programme, is focused on how coastal communities in Palawan, the Philippines, perceive and experience livelihoods, and how these are linked with people’s wellbeing. In particular I am exploring how these are shaped by people’s gender, age, ethnicity, and class background.

Through empirical research in a municipality undergoing rapid change, I am seeking to explore how government and NGO narratives compare and contrast with the perceptions and experiences of different community members, and whether there are barriers or facilitators that influence people’s livelihood choice, in particular the most marginalised community members.

You can find Timur online or on Twitter here: @TimurJK

 

Dr Rebecca Short

Research Associate at the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Heath (ECEHH) in Cornwall.

Coming from a marine biology background I have developed an interest in how people and the oceans interact, particularly the balances between the benefits we derive and the impacts we have on the oceans. Recently this has focused on the role women play in the fisheries sector; how we can improve gender equity and generate win-wins for coastal communities. My PhD focused on the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear, an activity of underappreciated importance to women in developing nations which represents both and ecological risk and a socioeconomic opportunity. I am now additionally researching broadly across topics linking human health and the oceans with the European centre for Environment and Human Health SOPHIE project where we aim to set an agenda for the EU that secures the health services we critically rely on from the oceans. 

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research here, and follow her on Twitter, @BeccaEShort

 

It’s #WorldOceansDay! A focus on gender and fisheries in Mozambique

This #World oceans Day, Dr Rebecca Short from the University of Exeter Medical School, European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) talks to us about her PhD research focusing on gender roles in coastal fishing communities in Mozambique.

Words by Dr Rebecca Short, Research Associate, ECEHH, University of Exeter

I did not know that the women of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique would be so central to my PhD research when I began investigating the coastal fishing communities of this remote part of the country. I was there to take a first look at an issue that has been in the background for a long time, but seldom a main focus for those interested in fisheries; the use of mosquito nets as fishing gear. This is assumed to be a terrible idea. By putting your net in the water with a goal of feeding your family or making a small income you are not only reducing protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but also jeopardising the future sustainability of the fishery by sieving the fragile coral reef waters of fish of any size. This has been much discussed, though little scrutinised, with the result usually being to make it illegal – the case in Mozambique despite this impacting some of the poorest people. This I did know when I began and I must admit I presumed was a necessary evil to preserve the fish stocks for future generations.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise when on my very first day in the city of Pemba, having some lunch near the beach, when I saw a group of women very obviously fishing with their bright blue mosquito nets right by the shore. Surely this was quite risky? When I arrived in the much smaller villages north of the city which were to be my focus much of the same; women in the shallow waters, up to about chest height fishing with several mosquito nets sewn together in groups of three or four. Some days, groups of women fishing as far as the eye could see. Not an objection to be heard or fisheries official to be seen.

My first objective was to try to understand better the who, what, why and how of mosquito net fishing the only way I could think of; by going fishing with them. Whilst making a complete idiot of myself by apparently hauling in the net like a hapless baby, I saw a totally different side of the activity; it was fun. The groups of women were clearly good friends and laughed and joked whilst fishing (with or without my influence I should mention). This, I reflected, was in such contrast to their other main occupation of farming where they spend much of their time alone or with family on a small plot of land.

Early on in my research it was obvious there was more to it for women in what is a very conservative, patriarchal culture. Enabled by the free availability, lack of necessary fishing skills, and importantly perception of mosquito net fishing as acceptable ‘women’s work’ this has become their opportunity to make their own money (which can be more likely to contribute to community development than patriarchal income), to feed their children what is actually particularly a nutritious meal (Kawarazuka &  Béné, 2011), and of course a chance to have a break from the demands of their families! On top of this they had figured out their own economics; allotting catch according to net ownership, friendship loans of cash and food, and divisions of labour. Generating their own small industry. The significance of this should not be underestimated. Mozambique was recently rated 15th lowest in the world in the Girl’s Opportunity Index (Save The Children, 2016), and Cabo Delgado so remote from the capital of Maputo has some catching up to do with the rest of the country. Girls grow up here told that their best bet at a good life is to find a good husband, though divorce is not uncommon. To have an independent way to support your family can be more than survival but a way out of abject poverty.

If you’re wondering where the men are in this story – good question. I couldn’t really find them, and this alludes to the crux of the issue with mosquito net fishing. Because the men were using mosquito nets for fishing, you just probably won’t see them. They are further offshore, fishing with much bigger nets adapted for use over coral reefs where they would normally snag and tear, fishing in bigger groups with much larger catch sizes. This is what is seen as the problem with mosquito net fishing. Accordingly, a taboo is attached to this activity which does not exist for the women and the men hide what they are doing.

These differences are well known to the local people, and women fish so brazenly because they are not seen as a threat to the fishery. Yet nowhere in my preparation for this research, within the media, peer review literature or indeed by talking to officials did this come up. And I shouldn’t have been surprised – women are so often excluded from fisheries research. This may be because globally they play mostly secondary roles as traders, processors or indeed cooks. But even primary activities such as mosquito net fishing and what is probably one of the most widespread activities in small-scale fisheries, gleaning, are routinely disregarded in management and policy formation, whatever the governance system. This is reflected in research which focuses almost exclusively on male fisheries. But we are wising up! The field of gender and fisheries, and indeed gender and the oceans is rapidly growing. Not just as an area of interest, but driven by our increasing understanding of the critical role women play in successful development, conservation and sustainable management.

As I continue my research, both further in to mosquito net fisheries elsewhere and also more generally in to links between the oceans and human health with the SOPHIE project at ECEHH, I know that gender will be a key focus for me. Importantly I also believe it should be a key focus in all research of this kind; whilst I may seem obvious to us now that leaving out half of the picture leads to terrible policies and results we have several centuries of half-baked research to backfill with the full picture!

You can find out more about Rebecca’s research and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health here.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields.

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If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

Scientists at Sea Podcast: What’s in the water? With Dr. Anne Leonard

Show notes

Ethan and Molly talk to Dr. Anne Leonard about her work studying antibiotic resistant bacteria in the waters around our coasts. How did it get there? Is it dangerous? Where are the cleanest places to swim? All these questions and more are answered in the podcast linked above.

If people are worried about where and when they should go to beaches… going to ones that regularly meet good water quality standards is probably a good way to go.

Follow Anne on Twitter – @dr_anne_leonard

 

Read Anne’s open access (free) systematic review here:

Is it safe to go back into the water? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of acquiring infections from recreational exposure to seawater

You can also find out more about the Beach Bum Survey here (again, open access)!

 

 

Links to more of Anne’s work (membership to journals required)

A coliform-targeted metagenomic method facilitating human exposure estimates to Escherichia coli-borne antibiotic resistance genes

Human recreational exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria in coastal bathing waters

 

 

Bathing Water Quality Near You

Blue Flag Beaches

Environment Agency – Bathing Water Quality

Surfers Against Sewage – Safer Seas Service

 

 

The Jargon Buster

If there’s anything that came up in the episode that you would like to know more about, get in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Antibiotic medications

  • Drugs used to treat bacterial infections. These are used to treat a whole range of conditions such as acne, bronchitis, and skin infections.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria

  • Bacteria that are not controlled or killed by antibiotic medications.

Microorganisms

  • A living organism that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can be observed under a microscope.

MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

  • An example of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

E. coli – Escherichia coli

  • A type of bacteria that usually live in the intestines of people and animals which can cause food poisoning.

Pathogenic bacteria

  • Bacteria that is capable of causing disease.

Agricultural run-off

  • The portion of rainfall that runs over agricultural land and then into streams as surface water rather than being absorbed into ground water or evaporating.

Systematic review

  • A systematic review has multiple stages and is aimed at the identification of all reliable evidence regarding a specific clinical problem.

Next Generation Sequencing

  • A quick way of analysing DNA.

 

Get in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!

SOPHIE website launched

Author – Alexander Smalley

Research in the field of Oceans and Human Health gets a big boost this week, as the Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe project launches its new website.

Designed to encourage debate between different sectors, Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE for short) will build a community of researchers and practitioners to explore the links between our oceans and our health.

The new website will share information about the project and provide a platform for bringing marine specialists together with experts from medicine and public health. The site also provides wider opportunities for the public to get involved, with researchers keen to hear from those with an interest in marine issues, ‘blue’ tourism, or healthcare.

In one example, members of the public are being encouraged to share their experiences of interventions which harness the benefits of interacting with the ocean, in the hope of inspiring similar initiatives.

The project is led by a team from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health, and has attracted €2 million in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. It is a collaboration between several partners across Europe.

You can view the new website at https://sophie2020.eu and follow SOPHIE on Twitter here https://twitter.com/@OceansHealthEU.

#ExeterMarine is an interdisciplinary group of marine related researchers with capabilities across the scientific, medical, engineering, humanities and social science fields. If you are interested in working with our researchers or students, contact Michael Hanley or visit our website!