Social-ecological dynamics of fisherwomen’s behaviour in northern Mozambique
Wosu, Adaoma Carolyn Laura
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Design of effective interventions that support fisherwomen’s livelihoods and fisheries sustainability requires a comprehensive understanding of their behaviour, and the social and ecological context in which fishing takes place. However the tendency to analyse the biological and social components of the system separately has limited our understanding of fisheries as complex social-ecological systems. In addition, knowledge of women’s fishing behaviour lags far behind that of their male counterparts even though women are particularly vulnerable to marine resource degradation and global change. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by studying the social and ecological dynamics of a female intertidal fishery in coastal Mozambique. Field research was conducted over 18 months on Ibo Island in Cabo Delgado province. Methods used included semi-structured questionnaires, an intertidal catch survey, participatory techniques and ethnographic methods such as observation and informal interviews. The research starts with an analysis of the long-term change of women’s fishing behaviour in relation to the developing social, political and economic context in the region. Fisherwomen’s daily fishing effort is then analysed using general linear mixed models to demonstrate the combined influence of environmental and socioeconomic drivers in an octopus fishery. Following from this, with the application of a cluster analysis, the thesis explores octopus fishers’ relationship to the fishery by challenging common assumptions of homogeneity among fisherwomen. Finally the cultural, social and regulatory norms that structure octopus fishing within the community are assessed via institutional mapping. The research shows that this social-ecological system is characterised by significant temporal and spatial variation in women’s intertidal fishing activities. Fisherwomen are not a homogenous group, and there are clear differences in socioeconomic profiles and fishing effort, linked to characteristics of vulnerability. Although fisherwomen remain limited in the gear types and techniques they use, the fishery has experienced substantial changes in terms of resource availability and access, due to both local use and fishing ground restrictions related to conservation and tourism. A defining feature of this female fishery is the degree to which time constraints and local gender norms influence women’s fishing behaviour. The thesis concludes with a summary of the emergent properties of this social-ecological system, and considerations for socially and gender-sensitive fisheries interventions in the region.