Feature

Female Fisheries Observer Tells Of Gender Discrimination Onboard

“I have been in a scenario where I had to be out at sea for more than three weeks, and I had to deal with close to 30 men and just four of us were females."
20 Jan 2021 12:03
Female Fisheries Observer Tells Of Gender Discrimination Onboard
Hangton Pacific quality assurance controller, Akeneta Marama.

Akeneta Marama has spent almost half of her life on fishing vessels as a fisheries observer and revealed some of the shocking details that ship operators take too lightly.

The 46-year-old is a quality assurance controller of Hangton Pacific, a long line tuna fishing company.

“I have been in the industry for more than 23 years and I will tell you that in local fishing vessels, you will only have one bathroom and one toilet for everyone,” Ms Marama said.

“I have been in a scenario where I had to be out at sea for more than three weeks, and I had to deal with close to 30 men and just four of us were females.

“This is what we had to do. When a woman had to use the bathroom or the toilet all the men had to go to the other side of the vessel while we had to use it because sometimes they are not even closed.

“This is the type of environment we have to work in, both genders using the same rest rooms and bathrooms. Our safety is always at stake.”

She said the issue of women being victims of discrimination was also an ongoing problem.

“Another common scene in fishing vessels is the discriminatory remarks rendered to women, when a woman doesn’t perform, they are being ridiculed and blasted by the men,” she said.

“How can we expect them to perform if this is what they have to deal with every day?

“Women are always willing to learn, but if they are discriminated against then we will not be able to bridge the gap that exists in this sector.

“These are issues that need to be highlighted in our quest for equality in the workplace.”

Ms Marama shared this during the Gender Mainstreaming Workshop held in Suva yesterday.

The workshop addressed issues of concerned and proposed changes that could be implemented to ensure gender mainstreaming and equality in the sector.

In attendance were fishing vessel owners, industry stakeholders, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and women organisations around the country.

Fishing vessel owner Du Xuejwy speaking during the Gender Mainstreaming during the Offshore Fisheries Workshop at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay on January 19, 2021. Photo: Leon Lord

Fishing vessel owner Du Xuejwy speaking during the Gender Mainstreaming during the Offshore Fisheries Workshop at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay on January 19, 2021.
Photo: Leon Lord

Gaps and challenges

Independent consultant Aliti Vunisea said while studying the offshore fisheries sector in the country, a great percentage of fishing companies do not employ women as it incurred extra costs for the companies.

“Businesses are there to generate income and profit and some of my findings through the consultations that I have made is that women are not recruited because they sometimes are considered as a liability, having to be trained incurring extra costs and also because they were not strong enough to carry out some of the jobs on the vessels,” she said.

“This is the reality that is on the ground and this is why it is important that we have this dialogue with all stakeholders including ship owners in order to see ways that we can work together from now on – that is on work that women can do and what we could do together to make things better.

“Women cannot remain silent about the issues or make it a normal way to work. It is not a norm and we can change the views and perception of everyone when we sit together to discuss change.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj


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