First all-woman crew at the helm of Atlantic Aqua Farms boat

Just a few weeks ago, Rosanne Mouland spent her working hours grading oysters after harvest. Now she is captain of a shellfish farming boat run by an all-women crew in North Rustico.

Captain Rosanne Mouland is steering the boat for Atlantic Aqua Farms

Justine Leporho, left, Candace MacDonald, middle, and Rosanne Mouland are members of an all-women crew working in aquaculture at Atlantic Aqua Farms. (Submitted by Dana Drummond/Atlantic Aqua Farms)

Just a few weeks ago, Rosanne Mouland spent her working hours grading oysters after harvest.

Now she is captain of a shellfish farming boat run by an all-women crew in North Rustico.

"I love it on the water, I love learning new things, and it's all about the people you're around," Mouland said.

She had previously avoided getting on the water due to seasickness, then "one day I got out and tried it and loved it."

Ladies in the industry can add a lot.— Dana Drummond, Atlantic Aqua Farms

Her crew's role in fishing for oysters and mussels in this particular dike involves cleaning the lines, flipping the cages and harvesting the shellfish.

For years, women have been employed by Atlantic Aqua Farms, which has several locations across the Island and a main processing plant in Orwell Cove.

The manager confirmed this is the company's first all-women crew on the water.

Inspiring more women

Dana Drummond saw an opportunity to get more women involved in the industry, which he said has a labour shortage.

"Ladies in the industry can add a lot," he said.

It's an all-women crew, and I think that's fantastic.— Fisheries Minister Jamie Fox

At Atlantic Aqua Farms, women are already involved in the daily work at land-based facilities, in processing and packing, as well as sporadically placed on different boats, "so I thought that maybe if we get an all-female crew it might be easier for them and it might promote ladies in the industry," Drummond said.

He said they seem to enjoy it, since the boat operator just completed training a few weeks ago.

"They're doing great," he said.

He hopes more women will be inspired to join crews on the water.

P.E.I Fisheries Minister Jamie Fox said he was out on the water in the Rustico area, where he noticed women had stepped up to the plate in "areas that surprised him."

"It's an all-women crew, and I think that's fantastic," he said.

A profile of the industry from 1994 to 2006 indicates there was a strong male presence in the industry, with women making up about one-third of workers in the industry as a whole on P.E.I. And only 21 per cent of aquaculture jobs were held by women.

Mouland said she finds it comforting to be surrounded by peers who are women.

"Women can definitely do the work, absolutely ... and I'm very proud to be on a boat with women."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker


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