Maritime Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 385–397 | Cite as

A vision at sea: women in fisheries in the Azores Islands, Portugal

  • Alison Laurie NeilsonEmail author
  • Rita São Marcos
  • Kas Sempere
  • Laurinda Sousa
  • Clarisse Canha


In the Azores, the work of women in fisheries has been invisible and undervalued for decades. This article presents a historical review of the hidden roles of these women and how they gained a place within the fishing community through the creation of associations and participatory research collaborations. This article reviews the relationships between scientists, government and fishers, which has been variable over time. This article contributes to the growing family of concepts describing the invisibility of women in fisheries in both policy and academic circles. It contributes to understanding how participatory research and collaborative policymaking have evolved and faced challenges in the Azores region, adding empirical work to these concepts. It explores the way that women fishers have been embraced at times through the government’s support to create fishing associations, but excluded at other times, via the specific consultation practices of the decision-makers. Participatory action research helped build opportunities for the women to be seen as fishers by the public as well as acknowledged within official circles, and to gain confidence, strengthen self-esteem and gender consciousness. This work explores how economic crisis and a prioritizing of scientific expertise over community knowledge and participation have reduced women’s engagement in governance, effectively muting their voices and opportunity to contribute. It is an example for keeping both a gendered and a practitioner-expert perspective on research and policy on fisheries.


Azores Gender Knowledge Power Participation SS fisheries 



The authors are grateful to all the people who participated in multiple ways over the course of the research discussed in this article. We also wish to thank the editors and reviewers for their constructive comments which helped to improve the paper.

Funding information

This work was supported by EQUAL, a European Community Initiative Programme (2002-2003) for the“Mudança de Maré” project; Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, FCT) IF/01084/2013/CP1164/CT0001; SFRH/BD/131478/2017; Strategic Project (UID/SOC/50012/2019); the Regional Director for Science and Technology, Regional Secretary for Education and Science, Autonomous Region of the Azores DRCT-FRCT M2.1.2/I/007/2008; M3.2.2/I/020/2011; Iniciativas de Cooperação Bilateral - EEAGrants | Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian #201896.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Social Studies, CESUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.Christian Aid InternationalLondonUK
  3. 3.UMAR-AçoresPonta DelgadaPortugal

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