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Issue No.52
  • :September
  • :2016



What a woman!

With fishing at sea traditionally a male occupation, abandoning the straitjacketing of gender roles, today some of the ‘watermen’ of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland are women

By Mariette Correa (, Senior Programme Coordinator, ICSF

In Chesapeake Bay, located in Maryland in the United States, fishing continues to be an important occupation, with families carrying on the tradition for generations on end. The profession of ‘watermen’ is a venerated one, and the exploits of the region’s watermen legendary.

But among these watermen there are also a few women. This is a relatively recent development. Although women have long been involved in the business of fishing, their role has largely been seen as supportive and land-based.

Wives would get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to fix their husbands’ breakfasts, and would meet them in the evenings at the dock to help clean up and prep for the next day. Some adventurous women also manned the crab-picking houses, and others before that beaconed the great lighthouses along the bay.

It was only in the p