On the 5th and 6th of November Katia Frangoudes and Marja Bekendam represented AKTEA at the First International Conference on Women in Fisheries organized by the Spanish government in Santiago de Compostela. The conference started with the presentation of the “Santiago de Compostela Declaration” for Equal Opportunities in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sectors.
The Press Release is available here: https://www.mapa.gob.es/es/prensa/181105declaracionconferenciamujerespesca_tcm30-485039.pdf
Marja Bekendam states: “This declaration is a recognition of women’s work at sea and ashore. We hope to hear how it will lead to a formal recognition of the work women do. The implementation of directive (2010/41/EU) would be a great step forward for women who work with different tides, in all kinds of weather and working conditions every day”.
Prior to the International Conference of Women in Fisheries in Santiago de Compostela (November 2018), Katia Frangoudes and Marja Bekendam, representing AKTEA, visited two members organizations of the network in Galicia: Amarcarril and Mulleres Mar Arousa.
The association Amarcarril, based in Carril, gathers mariscadoras of the community who are, inter alia, organising visits for tourists and schools to explain their work and also the functioning of shore ecosystem. The association also created an exhibition room in the building of the auction where they show photos of shellfish harvesting as well as the main tools to practice such activity. Posters and other products are used to communicate about their activity. Amarcarril women told Katia and Marja about their work, their working conditions and the difficulties they are facing in the sector. AKTEA asked them what are their main messages for the decision-makers in Brussels and their prioriy is the reduction of the age of retirement which is now at 65 years old. Because of the difficult working conditions they find it hard to practice this activity until such an age and therefore they ask to retire earlier, like fishermen do. Besides that, the prices of their products are decreasing because of the import of foreign products. A regional certification of shellfish may help them to increase the price as consumers would be able to better identify their products. Their last demand was related to the size of shellfish, because in this part of the Ria Arousa shellfish are vulnerable to natural hazards and high mortality is observed during some months. For this reason, the mariscadoras of Carril claim for a flexible minimum conservation size which could be adaptable to each local context in order to avoid the loss of their production.
Later in the afternoon AKTEA’s representatives visited the association of Mulleres Mar Arousa in Villa Nova. This organization is gathering women of the communities around Ria Arousa. They practice a number of different activities related to the sea such as mussels farming, shellfish and percebes (barnacles) harvesting and direct marketing. In Galicia, women harvesters used to chair several cofradias (fishers organisations) and demonstrated their skills in managing male-dominated organizations’. However, since the cofradias’ most recent elections, the number of women leaders decreased considerably. For this reason Mulleres Mar Arousa decided to raise awareness about the matter and publicly claim for more gender sensitive regulations that would allow women to get back to managing cofradias. The association made noise about the matter through letters and articles in local newspapers addressed to fishers’ organisations, authorities and the general public, thus highlighting the urgent need to recognize women’s rights in the sector.
In the framework of the “3rd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress” (Thailand, 22-26 October 2018) Aktea was invited to provide its contribution on the topic of gender equality in small-scale fisheries.
At the core of this initative was the mapping of collective women initiatives worldwide. 20 participants from Latin America, Central America, Asia and Africa shared their knowledge about this issue. AKTEA’s representatives attended as well and explained the network’s action to foster gender equality and fairness in European small-scale fisheries. The round table agreed that such a mapping will allow to reinforce the movement’s visibility and will serve as a tool to advocate for the recognition of women’s rights.
Throughout the Congress two sessions were dedicated to gender equality. The first focussed on gender relations in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the light of globalization while the second was dedicated to Asia and migration as an enabler of poverty and discrimination.
In the framework of the “High-level Conference on Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea” (Malta, 25-26 september 2018) Aktea participated in the round table « A sustainable development model for fishing communities : promoting decent work and supporting the role of women ».
AKTEA explained the importance of having a network of women in fisheries to ensure sustainable Mediterranean fisheries and the main challenges and opportunities ahead. In addition, AKTEA asked for increased cooperation between DG Employment and DG Mare for the revision of the directive 2010/41/EU to allow the recognition of the contribution of fishers’ wives and partners.
In parallel with the event, a delegation composed by Stella Stylianou, Alicia Said and Katia Frangoudes met Maltese women involved in fisheries as wives or harvesters. They spoke about women’s role, difficulties and about the need to formally organize a wider network, including by meeting with other women from Mediterranean countries in the months to come.
New research exploring women’s roles in fishing families officially gets going, as the Women in Fisheries project launches its new website.
The study is examining how women contribute to the survival of both fishing families and the fishing industry, and will shed light on women’s roles, identities and wellbeing.
Collecting data on both sides of the Atlantic – in Newfoundland, Canada and here in the UK – Women in Fisheries is also hoping to understand how small-scale fishing families (those using boats under 10m in length) are adapting to a changing environmental and economic climate.
The new website helps to provide background on the research and explores what we currently know about the role of women in this sector.
Dr Madeleine Gustavsson, a Research Fellow at the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health, is leading the study and believes its timing is crucial, “Small-scale vessels make up 80% of the fishing fleet in the UK yet receive only 4% of the national fishing quota. By failing to prioritise this industry, many believe the UK government has left the communities that depend upon it vulnerable” she said.
“Listening to women’s stories is a central part of this research and the new website provides information about how people can sign up and take part. We want to hear from as many women involved in fisheries as possible, whatever their roles might be.”
The site features a regularly updated news section where people can follow the project’s progress; read about latest research; and hear about other efforts to improve recognition of women in fisheries on local and international levels.
Funded with support from an ESRC New Investigator grant, the project is also working closely with the small-scale fisheries practitioners and advocacy groups: AKTEA (European network for women in fisheries and aquaculture), LIFE (Low Impact fishers of Europe) and the Coastal Producer Organisation.