As the population grows, the demand for food also increases. Aquaculture, however, might be the fastest growing category in the food industry. Although it is not obvious, aquaculture is also an industry for women.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported in 2020 that, from 1990 to 2018:
- Fish consumption has increased by 122%.
- World aquaculture production increased by 527%.
- World fish production increased by 14%.
Aquaculture includes the farming and harvesting of fish and other aquatic organisms, even algae, in oceans and inland. In the United States, 75% of seafood is imported, and just under half of that imported seafood comes from agriculture. The industry is growing in the United States, producing $1.5 billion worth of seafood in 2018, according to Earth Island.
Paul Doremus, administrator of NOAA Fisheries, said in June 2020 that the United States was ready to increase agricultural production, The Fish Site reported.
“We have a vibrant agriculture industry in the United States, but it’s much smaller than we have the potential to be…and it’s more widely understood that 85-90% of the seafood we eat are imported seafood, and a good proportion of that is aquaculture products,” Doremus said. “So there’s a growing awareness that we’re missing out on opportunities to supply local seafood… and in key areas the industry is starting to realize that we need to expand our production portfolio,” he added.
Small-scale aquaculture could benefit women
Amanda Moeser and Emily Selinger of Freeport, Maine own separate oyster farms in Casco Bay, but the women often work together and support each other.
“The area they work in is relatively small, about 40 by 40 feet, but it will produce 100,000 commercial oysters this year,” writes Kate Olson in Earth Island Journal. “As we unload, I realize how rarely I have heard female voices on the waterfront. I wonder: could small-scale aquaculture be a way to fill this void?”
Women in aquaculture address all aspects of the industry
In March, Ireland-based The Fish Site featured Julie Kuchepatov, an American who works for social and environmental justice in the seafood industry.
“I started a career in sustainable seafood in a very untraditional way. I am neither a diver nor a marine biologist, but my entire career has been focused on promoting environmental sustainability and responsibility. in fishing and seafood production,” said Kuchepatov. , who lives in Oregon, told Rob Fletcher.
After working for Fair Trade USA from 2016 to 2020, she founded SAGE, Seafood and Gender Equality, to support women’s empowerment in global aquaculture.
“Women play an important role in fishing in the United States and can be found fishing from Bristol Bay in Alaska to the Gulf of Maine, and they are particularly concentrated in pre- and post-harvest activities,” said writes Kuchepatov in National Fisherman in April. “The lack of gender-disaggregated data and information on women’s participation in this industry is a big problem. Without it, we cannot develop equitable solutions to address the many challenges facing the industry.”
The Fish Site added profiles of other women in the industry throughout the year:
Claudia Kerber, who operates a hatchery with her husband in Brazil, focuses on grouper production and started the commercial hatchery industry there.
Law school graduate Kate Dempey founded a mussel farm and runs a marine consultancy that focuses on environmental restrictions and innovative farming methods.
Ching Fui Fui, an associate professor at the University of Malaysia in Sabah, heads the hatchery there and is deputy director of research and innovation at the Borneo Marine Research Institute.
Megan Davis, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, studies conch and has designed and operated seven conch hatcheries.
Mia Moseng was hired in March to be the managing director of Sedna Technologies Norway, where she studied aquaculture and worked on various fish farms.
A woman of color supports more diversity
Imani Black, a shellfish and aquaculture biologist, is a faculty research assistant at the University of Maryland. She previously worked in an oyster farming business and in an ecosystem restoration project.
“I really love oyster farming and all the things it does that are beneficial and impact our seafood resources,” Black told Rachel Sapin on IntraFish.com. “But we don’t have many minorities engaged in marine science.” Usually she finds people of color in the oyster industry working as laborers.
In June 2020, Black founded Minorities in Aquaculture, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in the industry.
“I wanted to create a space and a network to empower women of color and provide them with internships, mentorships, and just career development opportunities that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to or wouldn’t normally be aware of,” said she declared.