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Four Women's Contribution to Sustainable Oceans

March 6, 2020

This year for International Women’s Day, we’re showcasing some of the women we work with at the MSC. 

Women make up 40% of people working in fishing and processing but are not always represented. Here are four inspiring and interesting women working with the MSC to do their bit to contribute towards ocean sustainability so there is seafood available for future generations.

Anna Vesper Gunnarsson, Fisherwoman in Sweden

Anna with fish on the boat

Anna is a 17th generation fisherwoman. She catches pike perch in Lake Hjälmaren in Sweden; the first freshwater fishery in the world to achieve MSC certification.

This fishery leads the way, demonstrating to other freshwater fisheries how to be sustainable.

Anna is one of many people working around the world, to help us enjoy a future full of fish. She tells us that “as a 17th generation fisher, I want my children and their children to be able to experience this the same way as I have done. That is why the work for sustainable fishing is important to me.”

In a typical day, Anna could be:

• Taking her children to & from school
• Baiting 36 nets & catching approximately 50kg pike-perch 
• Assisting SLU - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with pike perch measurements

Since she was young, she has loved being close to the water and nature. She loves “not being able to control the weather, having the mighty wild birds so close, doing physically demanding work and feeling like part of nature.”

On one occasion she tells us “when I was bent over into an ice hole on a beautiful spring day and an osprey came and took a bream just beside my feet - my heart almost stopped.”

Find out more about Anna and her work on Instagram and Facebook.  


Linnéa Engström, MSC Program Director for the Baltic Sea Region & Scandinavia

Linnea speaking with MSC backdrop Linnéa runs the MSC Stockholm office and provides her team with strategic direction, leadership and support to boost engagement, grow sustainable seafood markets and save our oceans.

However her children think she’s “the one preparing the fish fingers that they eat in school - since the blue fish is on the pack!” 

Linnéa used to be a green politician and now that she works for the MSC, “the fishers know me in a very different capacity! We are all now working towards the same goal. It’s a great feeling to step outside of your comfort zone I think.”

In a typical day Linnéa could be:

• Working with scientists, NGOs or retail sustainability managers
• Answering critical questions from journalists 
• Coaching team members 
• Writing articles on sustainable fishing

Linnéa’s home-country is Sweden. Having always lived close to the sea and being a keen swimmer and fisher, Linnea is dedicated to driving changes on the water.  

Find out more about her team’s work:

• MSC in Sweden on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
• MSC in Denmark on Facebook and Instagram
• MSC in Norway on Facebook and Instagram
• MSC in Finland on Facebook and Instagram

Follow Linnéa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Sarah Heward, Founder & Director of The Real Food Café, Tyndrum, Scotland

Sarah with a plate of fish and chipsSarah and her team will be celebrating their 15th anniversary of their fish and chip café this year and she’s also training for an Ironman triathlon . 

She’s a proud MSC certificate holder as the fish sold with a blue tick in her café is sourced sustainably and can be traced all the way back to the ocean. “I have always been passionate about food provenance, animal welfare and the environment and so joining the MSC Chain of Custody was a ‘no brainer’ because it aligns so well with my values and those of the business.”

Sarah tells us she’s always loved food and cooking. She started her journey in the corporate world in London before deciding starting her own business in the small Scottish village of Tyndrum which she describes as “a very eclectic and cosmopolitan place although it’s remote. People come here from all over the world and from all walks of life on their travels through Highland Scotland.” The cafe serve 250,000 people a year. “We get lots of lost property which include all the normal stuff like hats and gloves but last year also included a set of false teeth and someone’s dog!”

Find out more about Sarah’s café on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Follow Sarah on Facebook.


Maria Damanaki, Global Ambassador for Oceans 

Maria manages The Nature Conservancy’s external presence on ocean issues and is a member the Marine Stewardship Council’s Board of Trustees.

Maria head shotMaria was born by the sea, on the Greek island of Crete. She tells us “my first tales of Greek mythology were about the ocean – about the first titan and the strongest son of the earth and the sky. The ocean is in the DNA and my heritage. That inspired my work as a politician, as a European Marine Commissioner who introduced the new fisheries policy, and in my current role with The Nature Conservancy.”

Maria was the youngest-ever Member of Parliament in Greece when first elected in 1977 and was the first woman to lead a political party in Greece in 1990. 

In a typical day, Maria could be: 

• Joining calls with colleagues based all across the world - from the US to Palau 
• Reading up on new research from our strong network of scientists 
• Meeting with partners and donors to think about how we best collaborate for a sustainable ocean

Maria really enjoys “getting to work at the intersection of science and innovation and seeing that work deliver real world policy and market-based solutions. The problems our world faces are solvable – but we need more cross-sectoral collaboration.”

Find out more about The Nature Conservancy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Follow Maria on Twitter.

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