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Women as key “innovators” in fisheries areas

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, highlights the role of women as “key innovators in fisheries areas, “contributing enormously to efforts to diversify and add-value to the work of fishing communities.”Addressing a hearing in the European Parliament on 1 December 2010 on "Women and the sustainable development of fisheries areas", Commissioner Damanaki emphasised that this was precisely what Axis 4 of the EFF aimed to support and she encouraged women and women's organisations “to get involved in local partnerships” and to “make use of funds to add value to local fisheries products or to start businesses in sectors such as tourism, food or renewable energy.”

Over 100,000 women are already employed in the fisheries sector in the EU, but the Commissioner warned that many women were not officially registered and their role was often confined to low grade, unskilled tasks, with limited access to decision-making. To tackle these issues, she highlighted the need for better representation of women in decision making processes, and for improved networking and exchange at local, regional, national and European level.

Member States are currently evaluating to what extent the EFF has been used to promote equal opportunities and will launch a study in the coming months on employment and the role of women in the fisheries sector and coastal regions. The Commission will also organise a conference on the role of women in fisheries in the second half of 2011. Following the Commissioner’s speech, a number of women´s organisations, including AKTEA, the European network of women´s organisations in fisheries and aquaculture, presented the specific problems they were facing and Monica Burch from the FARNET Support Unit presented Axis 4, highlighting how it could be used to address some of the issues identified. Her presentation is available here. A discussion group on women in fisheries has also been initiated on the dedicated FARNET Linked In group.

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