International Women’s Day ‒ March 8 |05 March 2021
‘Going out at sea was never a hardship,’ says Maria Rose
To commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy celebrates women working in the fisheries and maritime sector. In today’s issue, we introduce you to Maria Rose, a senior aquaculture technician with the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
Maria Rose joined the SFA almost 18 years ago after graduating from the Seychelles Maritime School and she is now working with the aquaculture department as a senior aquaculture technician.
She attended the Seychelles Polytechnic where she sat for her O-Levels and then went on to do a course in maritime studies at the Maritime school where she graduated as the best academic performer in 2002. In 2003, Maria joined the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) as a fisheries technician which later changed to what we now know as fisheries research technician.
Everyone who knows her will tell you how much of a hard worker she is, and because of her dedication and hard work she was later promoted to senior fisheries research technician. But her career path changed in 2019 when she officially joined the aquaculture department as a senior aquaculture technician. We say officially, as Maria has always helped in the aquaculture department from when the department was being set up.
Join us as we learn a bit more about Maria and her career in the fisheries sector.
Question: Why did you decide to pursue a career in the fisheries/BE sector?
Maria: Maritime studies was not my first choice; it was my second. I wanted to do my O-Levels and thus applied to go to the Seychelles Polytechnic to do just that. But I was always fascinated with diving, so after Polytechnic I applied for the maritime course, as I thought that would be my chance to learn how to dive. In the maritime studies course I not only learned to dive, but I also learned so much more and that’s where my passion started to grow. I am now fully qualified up to dive master.
Question: Describe your duties on a typical working day?
Maria: In the fisheries domain there is no typical working day. Every day is very different from the last. The only thing that doesn’t change for my team and I, is our daily morning routine. This involves checking different parameters in the raceways and tanks at our sea urchin research facility e.g., dissolve oxygen, temperature, mortality, feeding etc. We obviously make a weekly plan, but things change so quick that we often just need to go with the flow e.g., if the system stops working, we need to make sure that we get it back on as quick as possible as we are dealing with live animals. So, we are required to act quickly and be ready for any eventualities.
Question: Describe the transition from fisheries research to aquaculture research.
Maria: After almost 15 years in the fisheries department, I felt like I needed a change. I was part of the initial aquaculture feasibility field studies team as one of the technicians and had always been interested in this new sector so when a post became vacant, I grabbed the opportunity.
Question: What are the challenges you have faced and are currently facing as a woman in your line of work?
Maria: I don’t really face many challenges based on my gender. Except maybe at times, you need ‘muscle’ for certain jobs especially for heavy duty work, so you need that extra strength, but apart from that I can do pretty much everything else.
Question: Do you believe there is equality of opportunity for all Seychellois women in the sector that you are working in?
Maria: Definitely. Although there are only two of us in my team, the opportunity is there, but maybe people choose not to apply because of their own mindset.
Question: How has Covid-19 impacted on your work?
Maria: Our work involves a lot of teamwork thus needs to find ways around this. As with the Covid-19 restrictions we need to limit interactions and thus not all of us are at the site at the same time, it thus takes longer to achieve targets. For example, in the morning, there are loads of duties and because of fewer staff, it takes longer to complete them. I miss the interaction/discussions between colleagues e.g., at any given time when you’re writing a report, previously you could literally walk up to a colleague to discuss ideas but with the restrictions we can no longer do that.
Question: What are the sacrifices, both personal and professional you had to make to be where you are today?
Maria: Going out at sea was never a hardship. Maybe the sacrifice was that I joined the aquaculture team and thus no longer spending night at sea. Feeding the animals during the weekends, then going back to work on Monday, thus not having a weekend. But this is every 3-4 weekends, thus not really a big problem.
Question: What message do you have for all the girls and women out there on the occasion of women’s day?
Maria: Even if the situation is difficult right now because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we all have to gather our efforts to pull through this pandemic. Just remember that tomorrow everything will be fine. However, we all have to take our responsibility.
Contributed by the Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy