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A woman uses hand tools to chip out oysters at exposed rocks on the beach of Morjim, Goa, India.Rock oyster harvesting can be a local sustainable food sovereignty solution. Aaron Savio Lobo studies oysters and according to his studies, both men and women in Goa harvest but differently. Women chip on the rocks while men dive into the sea to bring a bunch of oysters. These practices are kinder to the sea bed as men use gloved hands to sift through the bed compared to using trawler nets that destroy the bed along with other sea species. Women take the job of taking out the oyster meat, cleaning and discarding the shell back into the ocean. New larvae often use the same shell. Interestingly, oyster clusters have been found on discarded tires too. Aaron writes, “As a rule, Goa’s oyster fishers would shuck these mother shells while they were out collecting in their canoes, or as soon as they got back to shore, to return the mother shells to the environment. This helps sustain future production of oysters in the area.”This practice is today challenged by trawler nets and increased demand from inland. Often entire rocks are transported including the oyster shells. Inland, there is a lack of access to sea waves or backwaters so the oyster shells are not returned for new larvae to grow. Oyster shells also neutralize acidic environments at the end of their lives. This important ecosystem function is also disrupted. With a rising acidic environment, other shell-based creatures that are part of the human food system are threatened. Oysters can provide local resilience because they have a renewing capacity. Over-exploitation, ocean acidification and unsustainable harvesting are factors that make it harder for oysters to renew.

Gender Dynamics of Ocean Risk and Resilience

Gender Dynamics of Ocean Risk and Resilience in SIDS and coastal LDCs

Project Lead: Stockholm Resilience Centre
Support: Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, University of British Columbia, Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Financial Support: Government of Canada

Summary 

ORRAA has commissioned a series of reports on ocean risk and resilience in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This report highlights gender roles in the ocean economy, describes the gendered dimensions of ocean risks, and summarises efforts across SIDS and LDCs for gender equitable approaches to building resilience to ocean risks.

Challenge 

The ocean, its coastlines and its coastal communities are at the front line of climate change, and are massively impacted by increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The world’s poor, the majority of whom are women, are disproportionately vulnerable to growing ocean risks and often lack of the capacity to build resilience.

Both fisheries and tourism have been highlighted as pivotal sectors to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Women play important roles across fisheries value chains and throughout the tourism sector. Yet women’s roles, contributions, priorities, and interests tend to be overlooked and undervalued across sectors as well as in policy and management. In addition, because of restrictive social-cultural norms, women are underrepresented in policy and decision-making. Gender discrimination threatens to increase women’s vulnerability to ocean risks.

Solution

Through a synthesis of peer-reviewed literature, and numerous case studies from SIDS and LDCs, this report highlights gender roles in two key sectors of the ocean economy (small-scale fisheries and coastal tourism), describes the gendered dimensions of ocean risks, and summarises efforts across SIDS and LDCs to advance gender equitable approaches throughout the blue economy.

Scalability and Next Steps

Advancing gender equality benefits women and girls through improved welfare and agency. These benefits extend beyond the individual to women’s households and communities, helping countries realise their full development potential, especially within the context of a blue economy. To meet this potential, finance, specifically Official Development Assistance (ODA) and climate risk insurance, can play a critical role in supporting gender responsive (transformative) approaches to resilience to ocean risks. Donors should demonstrate their commitment to, and leadership on, gender equality in development and risk resilience projects across the ocean economy by increasing their total and proportional allocations to gender-focused programming.