Women In Fishing | Vanessa Clements
To Vanessa Clements, fishing is much more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle. She’s truly a born and raised fishermen, with both parents working as lobster fishermen. Fishing has always been a huge part of her life, but Vanessa fostered this into a career she could be passionate about. She wakes up every morning itching to get out on the water and would happily talk about fishing for hours.
Vanessa worked her way up the ladder and currently holds a position with the Native Council of PEI and is 2nd man! Spartan Marine was lucky enough to speak with Vanessa and ask her some questions about her experience in the fishing industry – this is what she shared with us…
How long have you been in the fishing industry?
The short answer is my entire life. I grew up in an all fishing family where both my father and mother are lobster fisherman. They have fished side by side for over 30 years, so for me growing up fishing was not only my life but it developed into my passion.
How did you get started in the fishing industry?
I was lucky enough to be able to learn the ropes (pun intended) of fishing from my parents which then helped me land a fishing position with the Native Council of PEI. I started off as 3rd man and now I am 2nd man, a position that if I am being honest I do not know any other women hold. This is definitely something I want to see more of in the fishing industry. My next goal: Captain!
What’s your favourite part about working in the fishing industry?
Working on the water is definitely where I am meant to be and where I am most happy. I literally could not picture anything else for myself. I love it so much that on my off-season from fishing I work on cruise ships. I am by far on the water much more than on land! I love that every single day is different and that you never know what is going to happen out there at sea. Even the pressure of catching the most you can and dealing with the weather elements is a thrill to me. I love working hard and coming home at the end of the day with the taste of salt on my lips. Even on the tough days the fact that fishing goes so far back in my family history means a lot to me and gives me that extra motivation when I need it most.
Have you experienced any roadblocks in the industry because you’re a woman? If so, how did you overcome those struggles?
Absolutely. Not going to lie, it is very hard to go to work every day and know that there are people that doubt you. At the end of the day, gender biases can make their way into every workplace, especially fishing which is obviously extremely male-dominated. The few women that I do know that are involved in the fishing industry all work within their own family. That is not the case for me and I know that not only do I have to work as hard as the men, but I also have to work harder to prove myself. All I can do is know my worth, know I am a great fisherman, and show everyone and especially myself that fishing is what I am meant to do!
Can you share your greatest achievement or fondest memory since working in the fishing industry?
I would have to say my greatest achievement with fishing would definitely have to be working my way up the ladder and landing myself in a 2nd man position. I was up against many other men for that job and being told my work ethic and determination was nothing but impressive really meant so much to me. As for amazing memories, I honestly think you create so many even within one day out there. I’ll never forget saving a whale that was caught up in a net with my parents when I was a little girl. Or even this past fall catching 21 halibut in one day! Whew, what a day that was!
What would you tell a young woman wanting to get into the fishing industry? Do you have any advice?
Do not let anything or anyone stop you. If fishing is your passion then do not let go of it even if it seems impossible right now. There are going to be days where you think you can’t handle it and you want to give up but I promise if you just keep preserving and pushing through it will be the most rewarding career choice you’ve ever made!
A big thank you goes out to Vanessa for taking some time to share her story with Spartan Marine. It was a pleasure getting to learn about and share a bit of your story as a woman in the fishing industry and we look forward to celebrating alongside you when (not if) you hit that goal of becoming captain!