History of the Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji

The Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji was first established in 1993 and had 52 members in the Pacific region and internationally by 1995.

Initial funding for the Network was sourced and links were developed with the then, Fiji Department of Fisheries and women’s groups in Fiji, Tonga and Solomon Islands.

It was at its height in the 1990s focusing on the urgent need to strengthen the involvement and improve the conditions of women in fisheries sector in Fiji.

Members of the Network included fishers, researchers, gender and development specialists and scientists from non-Government organisations, Government and regional agencies.

Importantly, the Network was able to strengthen the engagement of women in fisheries by recognising their important roles and supporting them in training opportunities.

During the years when the Network was active from 1993-2001, it undertook:

  • community workshops on public health issues involving fisheries dominated by women
  • marine awareness and post-harvest fisheries training
  • marine conservation awareness training and
  • the publication of numer­ous training materials, including the valuable book, Fishing for Answers – Women and Fisheries in the Pacific Islands (Matthews, 1995). The book comprised papers by leading Pacific women researchers and activists.

The Network became defunct in 2004 due to the lack of resource personnel to effectively coordinate the work. It was not until 2012 when a group of women, who were early founders, decided to re-activate the Network. The Network revived with the reappointment of members to the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee.

Progress was slowly made, and in 2014, with support from the Pacific Community (SPC), the Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji contracted, fishing and gender specialist, Aliti Vunisea to undertake a scoping study to review the current status of women engaged in the fisheries sector in Fiji. That study helped to identify gaps and opportunities that the Network could strengthen or support.

In 2015, the Network received grants from the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These grants allowed in early 2016, the employment of a Co-ordinator and Finance/Administration Worker. A volunteer with Australian Volunteers International  was also contracted to assist in the development of the service.

The Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji was formally launched in October, 2016. It is a network that brings together scientists, researchers, gender and development scholars and practitioners from business, Government and non-Government agencies.

The 2016-2020 Women in Fisheries Network – Fiji Strategic Plan recent release will now guide the Network’s activities over the next 5 years.