Less than one in 12 employees in the fishing, forestry and agriculture sectors in Ireland is female, according to Ireland’s seafood development agency when launching a campaign to profile the role of women in the seafood sector At 11.7% female to male employees, this is significantly lower than the EU average of 36.9%.

Women in Seafood business Caitlin Ui Aodha

 Caitlín Uí Aodha, trawler owner and chairwoman of LAST

BIM chief executive Jim O’Toole said the agency would assist the sector to capitalise on the ‘talents of women’ in the wider sector.

 “In addition to training and mentorship, we are also working with women across the catching, aquaculture, processing and retail industries to develop a network to share information and ideas that will further progress and elevate their role.”

BIM’s campaign tells the stories of women in various roles and increases their visibility and “celebrates their contribution to this valuable industry,” he added.

BIM works closely with the catching sector where many women work behind the scenes managing the accounts for fishing businesses, or are the key communicators and representatives in their fishing communities.

The agency has formed partnerships with international women’s groups to gain insights into how they have developed effective networks, including the Australian Women’s Industry Network Community (WINC).

Common experiences

Attending a recent networking event in Ireland, Jayne Gallagher, Director of WINC, said that while Australia and Ireland were “worlds apart” in circumstances and experiences, everyone wanted their story to be heard.

“We are passionate about our industry and we want to have an impact. Working together we can help ensure a viable future for the seafood industry. Ensuring women are recognised and supported in their roles takes courage and determination, and the fledgling network here needs nurturing from its members and its stakeholders to maximise its impact and potential for the wider seafood industry.”

In 2017, Ireland’s seafood sector contributed €1.15bn to GDP.