The fisherwoman at the helm in Gokova Bay

A story from Gokova Bay, Turkey, prepared by UNEP/MAP and the Regional Activity Centre SPA/RAC, in collaboration with the Mediterranean Conservation Society (MCS), for the observance of the 2021 edition of International Women’s Day to highlight the accomplishments of some of the everyday female heroes (among many) who embody the principles enshrined in the Barcelona Convention through their work.

In Turkey, fisherwomen have always thrown nets at sea for centuries. But, nowadays, traditional fishing must take into account multiple threats including illegal and mass fishing practices, the increasingly obvious presence of non-native species and other increasingly noticeable effects of climate change.

 Fisherwomen also face other issues related to gender roles on board fishing boats. In a profession still largely dominated by men, the female crew members have long been numerous, however rare have been the female captains. Women's calls for gender equality are finally causing radical change in the traditional fishing sector.

Gulsiye Olmez ©SPA/RAC, Bubi FilmGulsiye Olmez, a fisherwoman from Akbuk in Gokova Bay, a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Turkey, is the captain of her own boat. Ms. Olmez has been fishing in Gokova Bay since 1982 and learned the trade from her husband. Three decades ago, the couple chose to fish together and have never looked back.

“Gathering fishing nets in stormy weather and mooring the boat safely requires both strength and experience. Passing the necessary test and obtaining a captain's certificate is only part of the equation. Hands-on experience. that's what makes a good captain, ”says Olmez.

 Born and raised in Gokova Bay, Gulsiye Olmez has witnessed firsthand the evolution of the marine environment and fish populations over the years. Illegal and mass fishing practices have reduced fish populations and damaged the region's biodiversity.

 Ms. Olmez believes that the creation of no-take zones will reverse this trend, improve fish populations and improve the livelihoods of traditional fishing communities. She believes this can only be achieved through active management systems, such as the Mediterranean Conservation Society Marine Guard Service System implemented in Gokova Bay, which tracks and stops illegal practices.

 Gulsiye Olmez ©SPA/RAC, Bubi Film“Being a woman is difficult, but being a female fisherman makes life easier. Despite the physical challenges of this profession, I think every woman should try it to make her life more beautiful ”, observes the Captain.

The views expressed do not necessarily represent the decision or the stated policy of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Document Actions

published on 2021/04/15 15:14:20 GMT+0 last modified 2021-04-15T15:14:20+00:00