Founder of Rosa de los Vientos. Bueu, Pontevedra.
The fisheries sector is very broad and whereas OPROMAR represents producers, another subsector of vital importance for Galicia is the transformation subsector. The company Rosa de los Vientos belongs to this subsector. It was founded by Mercedes and her husband a little over a quarter of a century ago and it manufactures fresh and frozen products. Octopus is their specialty, though they handle other foods as well.
Mercedes’ family history has been tied to the sea and the octopus since the 19th century. Her grandparents had fishing vessels and her grandmother dried and sold octopus. Her father was also a sailor and her mother a netter, so they also made their living from the sea and its resources.
She started working in the family business when she was 14. She says that when her aunts left the business they inherited she did not hesitate to take over. She always loved her job and the financial independence that it provided.
In 1991 there was a complete shortage of bait fish in the Rías Baixas. She did not hesitate to get in her car and get bait in A Coruña so her husband could keep catching fish. The next day, they already had 40 clients and they started the bait business.
She is an extremely determined person, so she says she never had any troubles finding a job. However, it does seem clear to her that being a woman entails lower salaries and she fights so that does not happen in her company where she leads a group of people as if they were a big family. Her friendliness creates a good work environment, which allows them to be successful in anything they set out to do, as teamwork is their day-to-day secret.
This Brave Woman of the Sea, who is an utter perfectionist and transmits serenity when she speaks, cannot imagine doing a job poorly. Her greatest satisfaction is seeing things turn out as expected.
As a woman, she knows that both men and women can perform her company’s tasks, but women provide some assurance and peace on a daily basis, which makes things run more smoothly.
She is an optimist by nature and says that her company went international by chance. This chance was born from the hard times the sector experienced in 2002 after the Prestige oil spill. But when listening to her story, we realize that she was not ready to see everything that she had fought for go to waste, so once again she did not hesitate to pack her bags and go find the product wherever necessary. This time she travelled to Morocco and Mauritania to buy octopus, which she was also able to export due to the production shortage in the rest of the sector.
Mercedes believes that the fisheries sector is currently at a turning point, since factors such as climate change, lack of sufficient quotas and lack of crews are leading fishing companies to adapt to the new needs that will determine their future. And she is certain that her company depends on the success of this adaptation.