Not just a fisherman's wife: Women's contribution to health and wellbeing in commercial fishing Academic Article uri icon


  • To explore the role of women in fishing industry organisations and communities in promoting best-practice health behaviours among fishers in Australia.This paper reports aspects of research that examined how the fishing industry can best support physical health and mental well-being of fishers. The study employed a mixed-methods, multisite case study approach. Data were gathered from face-to-face and phone interactions.Two sites in Victoria and one in Western Australia.Thirty-one male fishers, including commercial licence owners, skippers, deckhands, three female family members, three fishing association representatives, one local government representative, two health care providers, and three regional health planning and funding bodies.Not applicable.Not applicable.Often unrecognised, women associated with the fishing industry are integral to the promotion of good health for fishers. They are key to identifying health issues (particularly mental health issues) and proposing community-based health and well-being strategies. They often do so by incorporating health information and activities into 'soft entry points' - informal, non-health service mechanisms by which fishers can access health information and health services.While not working at the industry coalface, women have a stake, and are key players, in the commercial fishing industry. Their knowledge of, and credibility within, fishing enterprises makes them valuable sources of information about health issues facing the industry and effective strategies to address them. This expertise should be applied in conjunction with industry associations and health providers to achieve better health outcomes for fishers and their families.

publication date

  • 2015