Manuela Mendez from the port of Corme, in Galicia, north-west Spain, is believed to be the first female officer in the Falklands' fishing fleet. The Second Mate arrived in Stanley harbor this week. After five years training in merchant shipping and a year on board another fishing vessel, Ms. Mendez joined the crew of Falkland’s trawler, New Polar, last year and is making her second trip to Falklands’ waters.
New Polar’s main catch is loligo squid during the two loligo seasons. At other times it can fish in international waters. Ms Mendez is the 2nd Mate and has a wide-ranging role, contributing too many aspects of running the ship - navigation, processing the catch and so on.
The crew, which comes from Spain, Peru and Indonesia, have seen women on board before, but only as fishery observers, so taking commands from a female officer is an unfamiliar experience.
This hasn’t led to any difficulties Ms Mendez told Penguin News: “The crew are professional and adaptable, and we have mutual respect, so there are no difficulties with me being the lone female on board.”
Although the ship comes into Stanley to transship catches into containers several times a season, Ms Mendez has not had time yet to explore the Islands or see the wildlife.
“We see birdlife, and penguins and whales, at sea, she explained, but I’m looking forward to seeing breeding penguins on land, in January”, said the Second mate. (Penguin News).