A new report exploring the real-life experiences, challenges and opportunities of women working in the Scottish fishing industry has been published, reports Paul Scott.

The ‘Women in Scottish Fisheries’ review was carried out last year by PhD student Katja Hržic ́, during a three-month internship at the Scottish government’s Marine Analytical Unit.

The review centres on the perceived and lived challenges for women in Scottish fisheries, and what opportunities have supported women in fishing communities in Scotland and beyond. It also examines other factors that contribute to the experiences of women in fisheries.

Katja Hržic ́ told Fishing News: “I hope the report underlines some important inequalities evidenced through literature, and highlights some ways in which women in fisheries can be supported, drawing on suggestions and examples of good practice from Scotland, the UK and beyond.”

She said that the standout findings from the report included the need to tackle sustainability and safety issues, and how improvements in those areas might have a direct impact on improving equality in the industry.

Katja Hržic ́ also said that views on equality and fair employment in fishing communities are ‘complex and not uniform, with many women taking on significant but informal or unpaid roles within fishing communities’. “A third of the Scottish seafood processing sector identified as female last year,” she said.

Her review found that women often face a range of practical, socio-economic and cultural challenges, including ‘difficulty in accessing training or the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus pandemic on caring responsibilities, to something as basic as inappropriate clothing or safety mitigations which are suited more towards men’.

Drawing from a wide body of research literature, the review was delivered as part of Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030, which has the key objective to ‘promote fishing as an attractive and safe career of choice, supporting new entrants into the sector, and equal treatment regardless of national origin or gender’.

Katja Hržic ́ told FN that she hoped the report would help bring about change. “On a policy level, I hope these findings influence future considerations on fisheries policy to address inequalities in the industry.

“On a smaller scale, I know the report has been circulated among some groups and forums for women involved in fisheries, but I think that its impact will be higher if its findings also reach more men in the industry.

“I think it is important – and I hope the report underlines this sufficiently – that women in Scottish fishing communities themselves are consulted about any concrete changes emerging as a response.”

The full review can be read here.

Report’s author seeks fishers’ input

Katja Hržic ́ is currently seeking the views of all fishers, and those living in fishing communities, for a survey as part of a new project on labour migrations in Scottish fisheries.

The project, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Marine

Scotland, aims to gain a better understanding of the experiences of migrant fishers who work, have worked, or wish to work in Scotland, and the dynamics of their employment.

The survey can be accessed here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

Main image: Seafish


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