Underrepresented but Highly Innovative: Women’s Contribution to the Blue Economy

In this issue of Ocean, our team is interested in fish skins, which can be useful in the manufacture of leather goods or fashion accessories. A resource that abounds on the French Atlantic slope.

This edition of Ocean also features a Greek aquaculture company that is almost entirely female and shows great innovation; the female gender is underrepresented in the maritime industry.

Fish skin of local production and tanning

Aquitaine, a coastal region in southwestern France, is known for its sand dunes, Bordeaux wines, and delicious seafood. Thanks to its vast Atlantic coast, the area lives off industry, fishing, and its inhabitants eat a lot of fish there.

So much so that Mariel Filip, who was in her twenties, decided to take up the Scandinavian method she had learned from her mother, which is to produce fish skin.

They eat a lot of fish. There is also farming, especially trout fish farming. So why not recover the sector’s waste, the hides, and turn them into leather?asked a young entrepreneur who finds raw materials from local fishmongers.

TO Aiguillon fish marketin Arcachon, buyers regularly ask sellers to remove their skins.because they don’t always eat itsays Maider Taudin, a fishmonger in the business.

This is what goes into the trash, we don’t do anything about it.she continues.

A cheap raw material for Mariel, who can thus produce in her workshop at a lower cost. But the process of creating his company’s skin, close dark blue skinpretty long.

It takes about two weeks from when you have raw skin to when you have dyed, finished skin. He’ll go through a string of bathsshe explains.

The tanning bath, then the color baths, and then the skins will be machined, that is, flattened and stretched, to give them flexibility and then a certain finesse. We use crushed plants in the process, so we don’t use chemicals, so it’s still pretty virtuous.“.

It’s the same as classic leather. The only difference is that we have a pattern on it, we have a pattern of scales. Just like ostrich skin, it has a pattern, a crocodile has scales, a snake – so we will be in the range where we call exotic skinsshe explains.

Waste management supported by the EU

This innovative method is supported by the European Marine, Fisheries and Aquaculture Foundation, allowing Mariel to develop its “marine leather” and supply it to small local producers such as Karine Coutière, Pas Kap’s artisan leather.

Children’s shoes, women’s shoes, business card holder, suitcase, handbag, small clutch, bracelet, key chain, c’est à l’infini– lists the shopkeeper.

I believe that fish skin has this precious and original side, and at the same time is very respectful of the environment. I am proud to work with this raw material, very proud !” she rejoiced.

Women’s, environmentally responsible aquaculture company

In Europe they represent less than 4% of the workforce of fishing vessels and less than a quarter of human resources in aquaculture. An underrepresentation that doesn’t stop them from standing out.

On the Greek island of Kefalonia, a woman-managing aquaculture company has gone against the grain. At the head Fishing in Kefalonia since the late 1990s, Lara Barazi-Geroulanu multiplied by thirty the products of his company, while respecting the environment. She breeds bass and sea bream in floating cages for clients around the world.

Most of our management team is made up of women: we have great women in our R&D department, in our sales department, in our quality control department, in our human resources department.“she’s satisfied.

I think we are all women except for two departments” companies.

While men tend to perform more physical tasks, such as feeding fish or diving to check nets, women play a key role in management and management. The company welcomes this, as it is easier to combine work and family responsibilities.

We are very flexible in terms of maternity leave and remote work. If someone says to me, listen, I have to leave a little earlier, because I have to pick up my child, and then I will work, maybe a little later or on the weekend – I don’t mind.Lara explains to Barazi-Geroulan.

Katerina Katsika has been raising fish in cages for more than thirty years, and sometimes difficult climatic conditions do not bother her.

It is very cold in winter and the sea is rough, but I think women who choose this type of work appreciate it. It’s nice to work so close to nature when you love the sea, I don’t think they see it as a problem, they love it!she points out.

The health of the fish is his responsibility. In his service, one million copies are vaccinated against diseases annually.

Some tasks require physical strength, but not all, so not all jobs here are “male”. A woman can do the same!“Explains Adelaide Caterelow, ichthyologist, in the midst of a vaccination operation.

Continuous research is an important part of aquaculture. The production is based on an incubator, which is both a laboratory and a farm.

Evi Abacidou manages the hatchery at Kefalonia Fisheries. Together with her colleagues, she oversees the selection of broodstock and monitors the growth of fish – from tiny eggs to larvae and juveniles. The fish remain in the hatchery until they are large enough to be transferred to sea cages.

We select the best fish – the ones that grow fast and are in the best shape.” explains Evy Abacidou, Head of Hatchery and R&D at Kefalonia Fisheries.

We use them to raise the next generation. Incubation procedures are very scientific – they must be very precise and the work must be very thorough. Women are very good at this.she points out.

Raising awareness of girls about marine fisheries

The women of this company also provide quality control of the fish, its processing and final packaging.

I’Greek Organization of Aquaculture Producers which represents 80% of the sector, organizes educational projects for young women. The goal is to dispel misconceptions and make them more familiar by introducing them to career prospects in the industry.

We try to introduce knowledge about aquaculture in schools. We organize workshops, write articles about women in aquaculture and introduce women to the different career paths they could take if they wanted to join the sector. It’s not just about packing and spending all day on the water, they can be engineers, explorers, scientists, food specialists, and even captains if they want to.“Explains Ismini Bogdana, director of communications and public relations of the organization.

Achieving gender equality will take time and effort, but as it develops, fishing is gradually losing its image as an exclusively male industry.

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