OPROMAR SHIPOWNER AND FOREIGN VESSEL CONSULTANT. Aguiño, A Coruña.
When you meet Maria for the first time you can feel intimidated by the self-assurance and self-confidence that she transmits. She is a self-made Brave Woman of the Sea.
She comes from a family of sailors and she grew up wrapped in salt and fish. From a very young age, she would go with her father to unload her uncle’s purse seiners, and even before finishing her studies she had the opportunity to manage the English vessels that her family members had just bought.
Over time other shipowner companies with English vessels contacted her and wanted her to manage their administrative and legal matters, as besides her knowledge of maritime English, she had great experience with the English fishing system and contacts in the country. She also led the creation of a Producer Organization in the United Kingdom and is in charge of its day-to-day operations.
Her voice reveals emotion and passion when she speaks about the fisheries sector. She considers herself very fortunate to know people from many fields and places, to be able to learn from what others know, and especially to feel loved and appreciated by the people she works for. She is a dynamic and lively woman. She believes that fisheries allow her to develop her mind, and she considers it more of a relaxing activity than a job. She admits that some moments are not so great, such as the evenings she has to spend at the fish auction market, standing for hours and without getting any rest, but everything else makes it worth it.
She does not find it very demanding right now, but it is different when she talks about when she started out. Making a place for herself in a world of men and working many nights in a row in unloading was complicated. She no longer has any resentment about that time, when she had to go to the fish auction market in A Coruña and fight other workers for a bidding space, where she was constantly mocked and challenged for being a woman. Despite everything, she is a brave woman and nobody was able to put her off her path.
Getting various companies in the sector to invest in English vessels is, in her opinion, her biggest contribution to the sector. Not because she got encouraged to do it, but because they saw that it was a good business. In her words, “anyone who does not do teamwork is destined to fail.” Certain of the value that others add, she believes that the more, the merrier and greater the success.
Despite the self-confidence she transmits, it is not easy for her to acknowledge her success in fisheries. It is impressive to hear, for example, that she was consulted by UK lawyers regarding a hefty lawsuit against the UK Government.
When she is asked about the risks taken, she said that she made many financial mistakes, making investments that did not turn out well, but she always remembers what her aunt used to say to her “sell or buy, it’s all about getting trading”, so she doesn’t consider them risks. The greatest risk for her was the audacity that she had to show to be able to fight for a place in this sector.
She is certain that bureaucracy drowns the fisheries sector. Its future should involve simplifying and reducing the number of regulations and administrative procedures. She also believes that standardizing controls is necessary, as the current number of inspectors is excessive and infeasible. She thinks that another shortcoming are the quotas, which are insufficient for the activity to be financially sustainable.