BlogJune 2024

The Legacy of Women’s Fishing Involvement: Tradition, Resilience, Empowerment

The Legacy of Women’s Fishing Involvement: Tradition, Resilience, Empowerment

By Debbie Hanson

Jun 03, 2024

Historical summary, legacy of women’s fishing involvement. How women have been integral parts of fishing communities for centuries, empowerment for the future

While fishing has long been portrayed as a predominantly male recreational and sport activity, the legacy of women’s fishing involvement can be traced back through history. Women have been playing integral roles in fishing communities around the world for centuries. From sportfishing to seafood harvesting, women’s role in fishing over the years is rich in tradition, resilience, and empowerment.

Rich Cultural Tradition

In many indigenous cultures, women have been the primary harvesters of seafood, using methods passed down through generations. From gathering shellfish along coastal shores to the construction of handwoven fish traps, women have played a key role in providing food for their families and communities. Unfortunately, the cultural significance of women in fishing communities is often overlooked.

Specific examples of the historical role of women in fishing by region can be seen in the Pacific Islands. In places like the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, their roles as harvesters are critical for both household food security and finances. Women are thought to be responsible for more than half of the annual catch for these small scale fisheries (Source: ScienceDirect).

Resilience in the Industry

In addition to their roles as harvesters, women have been involved in every aspect of the fishing industry, from processing and selling fish to fisheries management. In many coastal regions, women work alongside men to support their families. Current estimates suggest that women make up over half of total employment in the fisheries sector globally.

Despite their crucial contributions, the resilience of women in continuing fishing traditions often goes unrecognized. Women have faced exclusion from certain roles within the industry due to fishing being viewed as a male-dominated profession. Regardless, women have persisted, breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes to assert their place in fishing communities across the globe.

Empowering Women in Fishing

In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of gender equality in sportfishing, commercial fishing, fisheries management, and in conservation. Organizations and initiatives (including RBFF’s “Women Making Waves” campaign) around the world are working to empower women by providing training, resources, and support to help them thrive. From promoting women’s leadership in fisheries management to advocating for equal access to resources and opportunities, these efforts are helping to create a more inclusive industry.

As we celebrate the legacy of women’s fishing involvement, it’s important to recognize the ongoing challenges and work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. You can help by amplifying the voices and contributions of women in fishing. Let’s honor the legacies of the women who came before us while doing our part to ensure that future generations of women prosper in their local fishing communities.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.