Gender equality and ensuring that women are given the same career opportunities and means to engage with the seafood industry as men is a major challenge that warrants urgent prioritization, according to Iceland Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir.
Speaking at the World Seafood Congress 2017 (WSC) taking place in Reykjavik, the minister applauded the seafood industry for its continued progress, including adding to the volume and quality of the seafood available to the market and making an increasingly important contribution to global food security. But she called on everyone involved in seafood “to do what they can” to overcome the gender gap that remains in the sector.
Globally, is currently estimated that just one percent of CEO positions in seafood are held by women, despite women accounting for more than 50 percent of all its jobs.
“It will benefit us all – men, women, the seafood sector as a whole. So please let’s all take significant steps to fix the gender gap,” she said.
The minister also highlighted the high dependence of the Icelandic economy on its seafood exports, as well as the rewards that have been achieved through innovation rather than through increased fishing effort or production.
“What’s remarkable is that over the last 15 years, we have been able to double the value created by the ocean within our economy. This has mainly been achieved through the development of new products and new value streams that are utilizing the same resources. These resources are maintained at all levels on a scientific basis," Gunnarsdóttir said. “Fish is a very versatile food commodity and can be highly utilized, but it is also extremely perishable and can spoil more rapidly than almost any other food in the world. Therefore, the post-harvest handling, processing, preservation, packaging and transportation of fish require particular care in order to maintain quality."
Gunnarsdóttir praised the technological innovations that have improved handling and quality of seafood.Gunnarsdóttirz
“In all of these areas there has been tremendous progress. Super-chilling, modified air packaging and sophisticated heat treatments are a few of the popular methods for maintaining fish quality. Coupled with better logistics and handling of the fish, we are able to bring more fresh products to markets ever further away and yet in an environmentally responsible manner," she said. “We are absolutely at the forefront."