Are women in fisheries and aquaculture still mostly invisible and underpaid? A meta-analysis of case studies from four continents back in 2002 had identified such a pattern across a wide range of countries as different levels of socio-economic development. Mundus maris convened a panel on gender in fisheries at this year's X MARE Conference in Amsterdam, which examined whether in times of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015 these findings needed an update.

The panel was chaired by Cornelia E Nauen and Stella Williams, who gave the introduction to remind participants of the earlier findings and framed the papers submitted to explore more recent changes. Taking the numbers of publications in Google Scholar as an indicator, they noted a much larger awareness reflected in more than tripled numbers of papers since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015 in comparison with the five decades from 1950 to 2000.

The panel featured three presenters:

Aliou Sall reported on an analysis showing how women in small-scale fisheries in West Africa were affected selectively by vulnerability to poverty. This trend was closely correlated to resource degradation documented in the catch reconstructions for the countries in the region by the Sea Around Us project and associated increases of fishing costs and investments from outside the traditional fishing communities. The slides can be seen here.

Maxime Lambert, a MSc student of the Free University of Brussels (ULB), had worked with women in the fishing village of Hann, Senegal, during her stage with Mundus maris and presented her results. Her innovative use of drawings and icons to facilitate interaction with the women had helped to overcome some of their difficulties to articulate their views and experiences. Her findings of long working hours of the women and a range of different needs are a challenge to adapt any training or educational offers by the small-scale fisheries academy to their conditions so that they can make time for that.

Stella Williams made her presentation on behalf of a large team of collaborators in Nigeria who had examined the role of women at different segments of the fisheries and aquaculture sector in the country, from government departments, academic institutions to teaching and professional organisations. She could illustrate some encouraging advances in gender equity as a result of specific policies and implementation projects, particularly in public institutions. While a lot remains to be done, the advances show the feasibility and benefits of adopting gender sensitive policies and measures.

Through this and evidence presented in other sessions at the Conference it becomes apparent that the findings of the earlier meta-analysis still hold in many countries and regions and that the poor state of resources in many countries poses particular threats to women's income earning capacity. But some progress has been made in the last two decades that current efforts also garnered through the SDGs can build on.

Among others a panel convened by Katia Frangoudes and colleagues created additional opportunities to learn about and analyse contemporary situations for women in fisheries in France and several other countries.

The Too Big To Ignore Network convened several other sessions which allowed to harvest results from the many case studies that had been conducted by participants.

Following on from the SSF World Congress and trainings in transdisciplinary research and practice, Mundus maris also made a contribution to these conversations. They aim at getting a more realistic handle on the usually complex balance of conflicting demands. Among the many features that policy makers and practitioners are grappling with are those related to access to resources, land, social services, resource conservation, improved technologies and governance frameworks that allow to find viable compromises between these.

In this context, Cornelia Nauen and Aliou Sall presented a paper on the "Blue Justice" concept and what it might mean in practice.

The week flew by with intense discussions and often hard choices between different parallel sessions. More information about the conference can be found here.