A social wellbeing approach to the gendered impacts of fisheries transition in Gujarat, India

Authors: Rajib Biswal* and Derek S. Johnson**

*Former TBTI student
**TBTI Member

Change in small-scale fisheries is inevitable. Increased commercialization has differently impacted small-scale fisheries across the globe. This paper uses the analytical lens of social wellbeing to interpret the gradual change in the livelihoods of men and women in the fishing community of Saiyad Rajpara in coastal Gujarat, India. Further, this paper analyses the transition from subsistence to a market-oriented bag net fishery within the particular community and the gendered impacts of the transition. A rich ethnographic approach is being used to understand the change in the daily life of men and women within the fishing community. While material wellbeing is quite tangible for both men and women, the social wellbeing lens sheds light on the changing priorities in fishers’ relationships as well as the oddly change in the subjective wellbeing of both men and women within the fishing community.
This research was part of Biswal’s Master’s thesis and was co-funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada project, ‘Too Big to Ignore: Global Partnership for Small-scale Fisheries Research’.

Men and women working together to keep the fishing industry going with each contributing in their different capacities. Saiyad Rajpara harbour, Gujarat, India, 2014. Photo credit: Rajib Biswal.

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Rajib Biswal is an environmental social scientist interested in community-based natural resource management. Currently, Dr. Biswal is working as a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial University of Newfoundland where his research focuses on understanding the community priorities on energy and environmental issues in western Newfoundland. Dr. Biswal completed his PhD at the University of Manitoba where he developed a framework for community-based impact assessment and examined its potential at two different case study sites in Kenya. During his master degree, Dr. Biswal studied the sociocultural aspects of small-scale fisheries governance in India. He has several years of experience in the non-profit sector, including the United Nations Development Program in India.