Maritime Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 213–221 | Cite as

Invisible work, ignored knowledge? Changing gender roles, division of labor, and household strategies in Finnish small-scale fisheries

  • Pekka Salmi
  • Kirsi Sonck-Rautio


The roles of women, men, and other family members have changed during the history of Finnish small-scale fisheries. Generally, the most significant unit of the livelihood is the household, but fisheries have been of major importance also in the local community. Cooperation in fisheries has been quite common and in the past local community provided also employees for fish processing factories. Today, many coastal fisher families process their own catches and sell the products directly to consumers in fish marketing events. In this marketing strategy, women are typically in core role, although quite often women’s labor can be considered as “invisible work.” Today 9% of Finnish small-scale fishers are women. In many cases, fishing is not the only source-generating income in a fisher household, and often the wife of the family earns a steady income that keeps up opportunities to sustain the uncertain fishing livelihood. In our article, we examine women’s and men’s participation and roles in fisheries households and communities. We also study how these roles have changed over time and in what way are women’s and men’s contribution represented in statistics, politics and research. The study rests on case analyses and a collection of literature and interviews.


Coastal fishing Gender roles Division of labor Invisible knowledge Finland Small-scale fisheries 



We would like to thank the reviewers for valuable suggestions to strengthen the argument presented in this paper. This article is based upon work from COST Action Oceans Past Platform, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)TurkuFinland
  2. 2.European EthnologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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