NETTER AND SHIPOWNER. Aguiño, A Coruña.
Netters are women who have been made invisible in fisheries, although they are essential for the operation of the sector, especially for the purse seine fleet.
They are responsible for keeping the fishing gear in perfect conditions, sewing with dedication all the rips caused by capturing the marine delicacies that are brought to your plate daily. The hard working conditions leave visible marks on their bodies.
Berta entered this profession as a calling, but also out of necessity. When she was fourteen, she decided to do her bit for the family economy and started sewing net cloths with other women. When she tells her story there are no regrets; she is proud that she found her place in the world at such a young age.
Strength is also a part of the Brave Women of the Sea and we can see that quality in Berta when she talks about her work as a netter. She points out that netters had to work out in the open for years, sitting on the floor and with no support other than their own bodies. The conditions recently improved at the port where she works. They now have a sheltered area and benches adapted to the type of work they do where they can sit.
Nonetheless, her voice fills with sadness when she tells us how this type of work also caused her and her colleagues a series of bone and muscular ailments common in that profession, mostly due to the hard conditions mentioned earlier.
Berta is a Brave Woman of the Sea twice over, as she co-owns a purse seiner with her husband. Berta and two other women are responsible for repairing all the gear in the vessel. She says that she values teamwork highly because it allows for a better task management, time optimization and, above all, sisterhood during hard times.
She smiles when she talks about the mistakes made and how she learned from them, remembering how she used all of her strength to do all kinds of work when she was young, only because she was too proud to ask the men for help. She says that she does not do that now and that if she could go back, she would not have the same attitude because everyone, men and women, are part of the team.
What she values the most about her job is the financial independence that it allows her to have in life and she believes that as a woman she provides serenity to the sector. “Men are more temperamental and they tend to answer impulsively to adversities. We women, with patience and especially long-term experience, make them see that everything has a solution and we get them to calm down”, she says. She admits that this is sometimes the hardest part of being a woman in the sector; sometimes you are not appreciated as a professional just because you are a woman in a male-dominated sector.
As both a netter and a shipowner, she believes that the future of the sector includes obtaining fair and well-distributed quotas for each vessel, as well as better selling conditions that allow fish products to be properly valued.