Issues of gender are neglected in fisheries research and issues of fisheries are also neglected in feminist research. These twin omissions hamper our efforts to understand women’s experiences in coastal and fishing communities. This paper addresses the problem that policy is often directed narrowly at improving fish harvesting and
processing, without taking account of its impact on women, families and the community. The paper makes use of data from studies in two countries in different regions, Tanzania and Atlantic Canada, to illustrate how a feminist approach can uncover unequal gender relations of power and inequality in fishing communities and how these are integrated and justified in political, cultural and social structures. To overcome the limitations of small scale, context specific studies of women in coastal or fishing communities, we need to develop common frames, focusing on power, inequality and discrimination and, more positively, the ways in which women negotiate a better position for themselves and their families.