Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Scarlette Le Corre, the first woman to go fishing



Fishing is generally considered a male environment, but more and more women want to get on board, even if they are still few in number. Scarlette Le Corre is an exception. She was the very first woman to become a fisherman.

Today, in France, women represent 4.4% of maritime "Pêche et Cultures Marines" registrants in 2020. Their weight in the sector has increased steadily between 2002 and 2020. They represented only 2.5% of registrants in 2002 .

Since 2018, the number of registered maritime women has stabilized at 870 registered. In 2020 in Brittany, 185 women are in marine culture, shellfish farming and small-scale fishing. Only four go offshore fishing and fifteen deep sea fishing. (source Ocapiat)

Even if over these 18 years, the figure increases nicely, it is still very low. There is a certain reluctance among women to board for various reasons. Living and working conditions remain difficult on board fishing boats even if they have already improved with the renewal of the fleet in particular. But there is above all a problem of attractiveness of professions, we must attract women to training. Recruitment procedures for initial training do not encourage young women to enrol. Maritime high schools often give the image of a profession reserved for men. This picture needs to be changed.

At the Lycée maritime du Guilvinec, of the 120 students divided between high school and the BTS in 2022, there are only 4 girls. In initial training at the Lycée, 1 girl out of 100 students. Yet there is a real desire to feminize this training with this year the construction of a dormitory to accommodate the girls.

Women's family obligations remain a major obstacle to their access to fishing professions and the sector's masculine culture limits women's access.

Scarlette Le Corre, the first woman fisherman in France Scarlette Le Corre was born in 1955 in La Torche to a Breton father and a Vendée mother. From an early age, the little girl accompanied her father, a fisherman and seaweed worker, at sea. Very quickly, she knew that the sea would be part of her life. When the passion for fishing seizes her, her father does not understand this desire, because women cannot belong to this environment “ The girls did not go to sea, period! »

It is then necessary to fight and Scarlette will be the first woman to push the doors of this environment. But one thing is certain, it is obvious to her as she is so passionate about this profession of sailor-fisherman, her life will be on board a fishing boat.

I was only able to board when there was a woman in the Marine Nationale on the Jeanne

Determined, even a little stubborn, she finally sets sail alone on her small boat. She will be one of the first women to obtain her fisherman's certificate. Based in Guilvinec, aboard her boat, a few nets and a few traps, she practices artisanal, coastal and sustainable fishing. She sells her fish directly on the markets and at the auction. Scarlette realises very early on the urgency to practice a reasoned fishing. She gets a bit irritated when she is told that fishermen are emptying the oceans " Little fisherman like me don't empty the oceans. You know we are often fishermen from father to son so it is out of the question for us to leave nothing to our children. I rather believe that it is industrial fishing, the one that receives all the subsidies, which destroys the work of regulation that small-scale fishermen strive to do. »

Little by little, with its strong character, it is making a place for itself and asserting itself in the port of Guilvinec. She fits perfectly into this still very masculine world. Fishermen trust her, she becomes their worthy representative on the local Fisheries Committee and later on the Regional Fisheries Committee.

Scarlette knew that she had to diversify her activities so when the price of fish in the 90s fell, she launched into seaweed, she became a seaweed farmer . Off the coast of Guilvinec, she cultivates wakame, very popular in Japan, which grows underwater in sea fields on large ropes. And to perfect this activity, at low tide, when the tide coefficients allow it, Scarlette will pick seaweed from wild shores on the coast, a practice very much regulated by legislation.

There are in the world, oceans and rivers, more than 100,000 different species of algae but only 145 of them are consumed and only 24 authorised in France.

Scarlette Le Corre has diversified her activity as a fisherman by cultivating seaweed.

And for this workaholic, it doesn't stop there. She created at Guilvinec, a transformation workshop, she works in her laboratory the algae before packaging them. It also offers cooking workshops to introduce the general public to all the health benefits of these algae.

Scarlette Le Corre offers cooking workshops to discover the benefits of seaweed 

At the dawn of her 70th birthday, Scarlette still loves her job as a fisherman just as much, but she is aware that it is still today a job that is difficult to access for women, "what counts is the mental but she knows that for a woman who goes to sea, there are more constraints than satisfactions.

Written bySophie Bourhis - full story here.