Maritime Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 305–319 | Cite as

From household business to shareholding companies—impacts on gender relations and influence in fisheries and fish farming in northern Norway

  • Liv Toril PettersenEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. (En)Gendering Change in Small-scale Fisheries and Fishing Communities in a Globalized World


The purpose of the article is to highlight the nature of the structural changes in fishing and fish farming in northern Norway and to explain how these changes are related to changes within family business. The article examines changes in the role of the household, the wider family, and gender in business through an analysis of qualitative studies conducted during a period of 20 years. Great changes in industrial conditions have had impacts on the organisation of the fishing- and fish-farming businesses, from privately owned small-scale household-based production to larger shareholding companies. The household is no longer the productive unit, with some exceptions in small-scale fishing. However, family ownership is still important in both industries, and the family influences decisions of the business in different ways. The changes in the organisation of business activities also have consequences for gender relations and women’s role both in fishing and fish farming. Women’s traditional role as flexible workers in household businesses is only maintained in smaller businesses that are run by ‘husband and wife’ as a team. However, women still contribute as advisers and supporters for their husbands fishing activities, but women are seldom direct owners of the boat. Exceptionally, women take part in fishing as registered fishers. In fish farming, women may act as professional partners, employees, owners, board members, or managers.


Gender relations Household business Fish farming Fishing 



I thank my supervisor Audun Sandberg, at Nord University, as well as Siri Gerrard and Katia Frangoudes, who commented on earlier drafts of the article. I also thank two anonymous reviewers of MAST for their comments and Catriona Turner for editing the language.


The article is based on data from the author’s doctoral thesis project at Nord University and is funded by Nord University. The research builds on results from a number of projects carried at Nordland Research Institute, which were funded by Nordland Fylkeskommune (Nordland County Administration) and Fiskerinæringens Kvinneutvalg (the Council for Women in the Fishery Industry). Nord University supported the writing of this article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nord UniversityBodøNorway

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