INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
WOMEN IN SEAFOOD
NSW’s Michelle Van Der Neut
Michelle has worked for various Commonwealth and NSW State Government departments in administration and as an Executive Assistant to Directors and General Managers.
In addition, Michelle has been working in the fishing industry with her husband Tom for 34 years.
Together they have raised four sons, one of whom entered the fishing industry 10 years ago.
Michelle is now working full time with her husband and son as office manager of Hawkesbury River
Seafood. She is a member of the Wild Caught Fishers Coalition and the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community.
WINSC: When and how did you get involved in the seafood industry?
Michelle: My earliest memories of seafood were from scoop netting with my family at Long Jetty on the Central Coast. Many wonderful nights were spent during the summer catching, cooking and eating beautiful fresh prawns. I guess this gave me an appreciation of the skills needed to catch the prawns but mainly how wonderful they were to eat.
I met my husband in 1982 and our courting was conducted mainly on the trawler. I worked in Sydney during the week and each Friday I would get off the train at Woy Woy and go fishing. I loved it then and I still love our way of life today.
WINSC: What is your biggest reward working in the seafood industry?
Michelle: The benefits that it has had for my family. Our children grew up in a small coastal fishing village and each of them has had instilled in them from this experience the importance of community, working hard and helping others and this has endured into their adult life.
Our family has been through many good times as well as devastating times such as good/bad seasons, sunken trawler in extreme weather as well as the current uncertainty for the future of our industry but our family has always pulled together and overcome the difficulties. Can I also add that being a part of the fishing community is also wonderful as the support we all provide to each other when disaster strikes is something rarely seen in the corporate world.
WINSC: Would you encourage women to follow a career in the seafood industry? Why?
Michelle: Absolutely, as women can be, and are successful in this industry! Success comes in many forms and it is determined by the individuals involved. Some people determine success to be a large company but it is also true that success can be measured by individuals running a small business by providing for their family and their communities.
Whether we women are on the boats, working with the nets/pots/traps, or being involved in the business or industry side of things, or keeping the home fires burning, we have a very important role in the industry. As in any business there are multiple tasks that make up the whole enterprise and whether a woman chooses to have a minor or major role, we are significant in the success and future of the commercial fishing industry.