CAOPA Profiles

By Vishakha Gupta (, Independent Researcher, New Delhi, India


CAOPA, the African Confederation of Professional Organizations of Artisanal Fisheries, recently launched an exciting new series on its website that captures the stories, lives, struggles, challenges and achievements of women leaders in African fisheries.



The series currently features two women Mercy Wasai Mghanga, a marine resource manager, fish trader and product enhancement expert in Kenya, and Kadiatou Bangoura, a fisheries entrepreneur, currently the treasurer of CAOPA, whose lives, while full of challenges, are highly inspirational.

Both these women entered the fisheries sector with the intention of transforming it in ways that would support them. Since the sector is significantly male dominated, they had to work harder and smarter in order to succeed. Both focused on community capacity-building, particularly the creation of employment in the artisanal fishing sector and the strengthening of social security nets, and both enabled the empowerment of more women, especially in decision making bodies. In their view, the breaking down of gendered barriers is essential to the success of the artisanal fishing sector.

Both women emerged in leadership roles as a result of their work at the grassroots, within their fishing communities. It is a pleasure to read their stories, particularly, about the challenges they faced, their advice to budding entrepreneurs, and their visions for a sustainable fisheries sector.

Learn more about these brave and inspiring women at