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Tackling alcoholism and domestic violence in fisheries—A new opportunity to improve well-being for the most vulnerable people in global fisheries

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Coulthard



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 The Authors. Fish and Fisheries published by John Wiley & Sons LtdThe UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) principle of “leaving no one behind” focuses global attention on the poorest and most vulnerable people. As different sectors grapple to engage meaningfully with this principle, we posit that greater consideration of social problems in fishing-dependent communities, such as alcoholism and domestic violence, presents an opportunity for fishery governors to contribute to the SDGs mandate. We further argue that governing marine resources in ignorance of these problems can risk harming some of the most vulnerable people in fisheries. Using subjective well-being data from women living in two small-scale fishing communities in India and Sri Lanka, we demonstrate the prevalence and impact of alcoholism and domestic violence in fishing households. We further highlight how policies which restrict access to marine resources can undermine important coping strategies, in particular, the ability of women to act as independent income earners, exacerbating harm to already vulnerable women. A scoping review of the literature reveals that alcoholism and domestic violence are reported in certain fisheries around the world, and we theorize how this may relate to the nature of fishing life and growing stresses regarding the future of fishing. Tackling the burdens of alcoholism and domestic violence in fisheries, where it is an issue, is an opportunity to improve well-being for men, women and their families. The paper concludes with tangible actions which marine resource governors could adopt to contribute to the “leave no one behind” ethos.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coulthard S, White C, Paranamana N, Sandaruwan KPGL, Manimohan R, Maya R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Fish and Fisheries

Year: 2020

Volume: 21

Issue: 2

Pages: 223-236

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 09/12/2019

Acceptance date: 17/10/2019

Date deposited: 19/11/2021

ISSN (print): 1467-2960

ISSN (electronic): 1467-2979

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/faf.12426


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Funder referenceFunder name
Economic and Social Research Council. Grant Number: ES/I009604/2