Marja Bekendam-de Boer, together with her husband runs an inland fisheries enterprise in the centre of the Netherlands. They fish during the summer months in freshwater and their main target species is eel.
Since 2003 Marja has been involved with women in fisheries in the Netherlands and Europe. Also, since 2008 she has been the chairperson of AKTEA, the European network of Women in fisheries and aquaculture.
1. What are you currently working on within the context of SSF?
In our own enterprise I do bookkeeping/financial administration and collect information about legislations/regulations etc. Together with my husband we struggle to keep the enterprise profitable and protect it from being crushed by bigger organisations (sports anglers, animal welfare, etc.) It feels good to share our sorrows as husband and wife. It has become real teamwork over the last 30 years! Besides that, I do presentations about inland fisheries for women’s organisations. The eel fisheries are a typical Dutch culture heritage but people know little about it.
2. If you could single out one or two most significant factors for securing sustainability of SSF, what would these factors be?
It is very important to have women involved in the family enterprise. They take – more than most men – care of the future of the family enterprise. They can collect information and encourage their partner to fish sustainably which is necessary to have a next fishing generation. In AKTEA we like to say: behind every boat, there is a woman, a family and a (coastal) community. The work of collaborative spouses is often invisible but very important for the fishing industry.
3. About the research cluster: what does it mean when you sign up?
I am ‘just’ a simple fisherwoman, I did not go to university or something like that. I see that most people in your network are academics so we speak a different ‘language’. But I must admit, therefore, it is extra nice to have a ‘real fisherwoman’ as member of the week.