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Oceans and fisheries
News article31 March 2022Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Women on board!

REDMAR project

Women are underrepresented in fisheries and the maritime world: many gender stereotypes still prevent women from working on board vessels, even when they have relevant diplomas. In the EU as a whole, 3% of the crews of high seas fishing vessels are women, and in Spain the figure is just 1%.

The REDMAR II project addresses this issue in a pioneering way, offering integration for women in the Spanish maritime and fisheries sectors. Apart from the general issue of gender equality, recruiting young women would help to resolve the ongoing issue of generational replacement.

The beneficiary of the project FUNDAMAR Foundation, which represents employers and fishing and shellfish gathering unions, is promoting since many years equal opportunities for women in the – traditionally male-dominated – fisheries sector. The REDMAR project is the first in Spain that looks into the employment of women on fishing vessels.

REDMAR II objectives are threefold and interconnected

  • first and foremost, it strives at getting more women on board fishing vessels
  • then, it aims at extending and promoting the network between vessel owners, sector associations, educational and gender equality organisations established in 2013
  • eventually it wishes to improve the online exchange of good practices in relation to equal opportunities, safety on board, and environmental issues such as waste management

At the beginning of the project, the biggest problems for women on board seemed to be related to the design and structure of fishing vessels, which have historically been designed solely for men. This is why the first phase of the project covered safety on board, and the working environment. It looked into the necessary structural changes on board fishing vessels, including cabins and toilets.

Towards the end of the project though, it became evident that women who want to work in the fishing sector face another barrier: they just don’t receive opportunities to work on board.

The project thus built awareness, created links between stakeholders and established best practices to be applied to the sector through workshops, active promotion of women employment on board and network building activities. REDMAR has shown that changes and improvements are possible in the sector and that women with a maritime and fisheries education are a precious asset.

The professional best practices learned during the project were adopted by 18 public and private entities, including the Women’s Network in the fisheries sector in Spain, the Shipowners’ Association of Vigo (ARVI), the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA) and the Women’s Foundation, and during the implementation of REDMAR II, three women got jobs as deck officers in fishing vessels. As a result, employment opportunities have increased and more and more fishing companies are now interested in hiring women.

Still much more can be done to ensure that women’s presence in the fishing sector increases. Yet, REDMAR II goes a long way in that direction, and the EU, through its European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, has lent its support to that end.

Did you like this story?

Then check out the March episode of Euronews OCEAN “Women in the blue economy”

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Publication date
31 March 2022
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries