Spotlight on Dominica – International Women’s Day 2018

The following article appears in our March Newsletter 2018

Joanna holds up the catch of the day

My name is Joanna Edmond, I am 26 years old and the mother of 3 children.  I live in the small fishing community of Layou, famous for its titiwe.

Layou is a small village on the western coast of Dominica located near the mouth of the Layou River, after which it was named. The dominant trade in the area is fishing, though a few farms are still active.

I started fishing seriously with my partner when I was 18 years of age.  At first, he would just take me along the shore, we would not go far out.  I would sell his catch.  Eventually, he took me out on a FAD and I was fine, I never vomited or felt sea sick.  From then we have been fishing regularly, first it was just FAD fishing then we were introduced to the long line.  Things started to get slow so we decided to try fish pots. I love to sell fish so fishing came easy to me.

There are not many women fishers in Dominica. I would say for the most there are probably 10 women fishers including myself.  I am often asked what am I doing on a boat?  People make fun of me, they often say I am just going for a boat ride. Since our village Layou is known for its titiwe, there is a lot of fish vendors in my community. I am an active member of the fish vending group in my village. I would encourage any woman who is interested in fishing to try it because you make good money whilst having fun.

Our fishing has declined after Hurricane Maria due to the lack of power which prevents us from getting ice to keep our fish fresh, and our customers can’t buy as much as they use to since they can’t store it. My home was not destroyed by Maria but I own a small farm which was completely destroyed.  My farm is the back up when the sea is really slow. Our boats were trapped on the beach and it took us a month before we could clear the debris and put our boat back in the water. We also lost our cooler covers and it has been a challenge to get materials to replace them. After Maria we lost 7 fish pots to the boats and barges that were coming to our aid.  We lost our GPS and fish finder because our storeroom was destroyed. My challenge is starting over, I have three children and I have to think of them first. My partner received a small aid from the government. Our first step is to buy fish pot wire and rope so we could set up a FAD.   Maria has given me the determination needed to be a strong fisherwoman. Some say you never miss something until its gone. If this was to happen again we will be better prepared.

titiwe: a translucent, tiny, guppy-sized fish (gobi family) appear by the multiple hundreds of millions, at the mouths of the island’s fresh water rivers.

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