DEEP-SEA MASTER. Viveiro, Lugo.
If you meet Arantxa, the first thing that you notice is her honesty and then her friendliness. She wins you over from the very first minute when she tells you, with a special sparkle in her eyes, that she loves the world of fisheries. She does not beat about the bush.
There are many things that stand out about her, but one of the most important may be the confidence that she exudes. How much she demands of herself and the fact that she never gave up on her dreams of working on a fishing vessel are qualities that undoubtedly prove her worth as a person and as a professional. She is a Brave Woman of the Sea; there is no doubt about that.
She laughs when she remembers that she started studying at the nautical school with the intention of working in passenger ships, and how only a few months later she was completely sure that her calling was fishing.
We see her great frustration when she tells us about the obstacles she faced in trying to board a fishing vessel after finishing her training. From doing her internship in a tugboat because none of the shipowners wanted to take her onboard to spending three years in the ports of her area, Celeiro and Burela, looking for a company willing to give her a chance.
But her persistence finally bore fruit and she got a job on a longliner of the Sole Bank, where she fished for quite a while with bottom-set longline in English and Irish waters.
She says she regrets not leaving her area sooner and daring to explore other fishing grounds and fishing gear. It was not until 2018, through FUNDAMAR’S project REDMAR, that she found other job opportunities that opened the doors to a completely unknown world for her, such as the Falklands and NAFO, where bottom trawlers fish many kilometers away from home.
Now that she has a lot of experience in the sector, she is studying to get her fishing captain’s diploma at the Instituto Marítimo Pesqueiro do Atlántico in Vigo before the summer of 2020. Continuous learning. On land and at sea. A tireless woman. Recognized for her work wherever she goes.
What she likes the most about her profession is being able to see new places and people and learn about different cultures. The personal enrichment. She also highlights, as do all the Brave Women of the Sea, the importance of teamwork: “in a vessel we are all important, men and women. If someone does something wrong, everything collapses.”
She believes that, as a woman, her contribution is her prudence and how she improves cohabitation on board, as that is what her colleagues tell her. She also knows that being a woman is exactly what stood in the way of getting her first opportunity for so long. The fisheries sector is a predominantly male world and almost exclusively so on board.
For Arantxa, the future of fisheries should involve a change in its historical perception: from a hard and risky profession that people go into out of necessity, but not because it was their calling, to an honorable profession that can and should be vocational or at least willingly chosen.
She emphasizes how proud she is of what she has achieved on her own and for herself, and so she should be. Not of what she has achieved for all women —she does not think she is that important— but for herself. She does not feel as she is any kind of trailblazer but, in fact, she is. Even if she is not aware of it, she did it for all women. A Brave Woman.