Hundreds of millions of people rely on small-scale fisheries for survival, nearly half of which are women. These fisheries are often the cornerstone of communities, serving as the main source of food and income, and their success or failure implies the same fate for those that rely on them. Currently, mounting pressure from unsustainable resource extraction, habitat modification, climatic changes, near shore development, and impacts from coastal populations are jeopardizing the distribution and abundance of near shore fish and invertebrates. With growing numbers of people dependent on the fruits of small-scale fisheries and dwindling numbers of available fish stocks, there’s a growing problem and a coming crisis. To avoid environmental and social disaster it has become increasingly urgent to address marine conservation and management strategies more effectively.
At New Course we have hope and we see solutions. We understand the role of women, their enormous potential as stewards of their environments and as leaders of their communities’ development. While men dominate the extractive process in the majority of fishing communities, women actually account for nearly half of the fisheries workforce. Their role in extraction, processing and trading fish, often in low-income, informal roles, is vital to the resiliency of their families and communities. Currently, despite their crucial role in fisheries, efforts to systematically engage women in coastal fisheries co-management are scarce, and their participation in decision-making processes, even those that directly impact their livelihoods, is limited.
New Course works to systematically engage both women and men in sustainable fisheries management. We enable women to sustainably manage their resources, have greater participation in community development, and overcome lack of access to financing, increased exposure to health risks as well as other social, cultural, political, and economic barriers to ensuring secure livelihoods. In doing so, we unlock women’s potential as catalysts for improved conservation and development, ensuring improved fisheries management and more resilient communities.