First all-female deck crew begins tuna fishing trip in Fiji


Image reproduced with the kind permission of the FFA

Posted on June 17, 2022 6:04 PM by

The Maritime Executive

Gender inequality is a long-standing concern in the maritime industry. Women make up a growing share of the maritime workforce ashore – particularly in professional roles – but they continue to face barriers to participation in careers at sea, including discrimination and to harassment. Globally, women seafarers make up less than 2% of the seagoing workforce – and far less in some countries.

In response, many public and private initiatives have emerged to strengthen the representation of women in the maritime industry. Fiji took center stage on Monday when a group of eight women set sail as the first female deck crew aboard a tuna longliner, the Seaka II.

The initiative was made possible through a partnership between Fijian fishing company SeaQuest Fiji and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). According to the FFA, this first all-female deck crew voyage represents a step forward towards gender balance in the Pacific tuna industry.

More than half of the population of Fiji, one of the most developed economies in the South Pacific, lives near coastal towns. They are heavily dependent on coastal fishing for their livelihood, and the fishing sector is a major source of employment for Fijian men and women.

However, Fiji is largely a patriarchal society based on existing cultural practices and traditions, and women have historically held few leadership positions in natural resource management. However, women run two of the main fisheries agencies in the South Pacific. In 2018, Dr Manu Tupou Roosen, a national of Tonga, became the first woman to lead the FFA. In addition, Dr. Sangaa Clark from Kiribati leads the Parties to the Nauru Accord (PNA). The PNA controls the world’s largest tuna purse seine fishery in the South Pacific region.

“It’s only fitting that Fiji would set a first for the Pacific. To see an all-female crew loading ice bait and stores, and seeing a female first officer, a female engineer and a female boatswain, marks real progress in our common goal of increasing female employment in the tuna fishing industry,” said Dr. Tupou-Roosen as he kicked off the trip in Walu Bay, Suva.

The Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) has also started offering scholarship opportunities to women, putting them on the right path to becoming officers and captains. “The FFA is extremely privileged to have supported SeaQuest Fiji and the FMA in their efforts to train and field this all-female crew, relying on female FMA graduates,” added Dr Roosen.


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