Meryl Williams

Meryl Williams

Meryl Williams

I am a retired and still active researcher working to get gender in aquaculture and fisheries research and development onto policy, practice and research agendas. For more than 4 decades, my career has focused on fisheries, marine conservation and rural research. Gradually, over the last twenty years, however, my special interest has turned to helping organise conferences, write about and promote the profile of women/gender in aquaculture and fisheries. Many colleagues and I, women and men such as my early mentor the late Dr M.C. Nandeesha, have been working to integrate gender themes into the work of professional fisheries societies, especially the Asian Fisheries Society and the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade. In 2017, the Asian Fisheries Society became the first professional society to form a Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS)

What drives me?

Women make enormous contributions to putting fish and other aquatic products such as those from seaweed into the diets and lives of all people on earth, but they get scant recognition and often few of the benefits. As a long term researcher, I have worked with many researchers and development practitioners to get more attention and projects focused on women and gender equality. We have come up against a disbelief that women actually worked in fisheries, a lack of expertise and funding for research and projects, and sometimes even antagonism towards the idea of women being considered as important in the sector.

What I love about being a woman in the seafood industry

The fish sector is vibrant and surprising. People –women and men – who work in any part of it are the most committed and engaged of any I have met. Professor John Dillon, a famous Australian agricultural economist and organisational leader, and once my Board Chair, remarked that he had never met people like those in fisheries: we studied fish and fisheries, we ate fish and over dinner we talked only about the fish and our passion for it!

Women who engage actively really have a future in the seafood industry.

Thoughts about the future of women in the fish sector

We have seen cases of great promise and growing evidence that when women stand up for their rights to fish, become entrepreneurial, grow their assets and understand their markets, they can make a positive difference in their lives, and those of their households and communities.


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