Maritime Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 335–346 | Cite as

Managing Mercado del Mar: a case of women’s entrepreneurship in the fishing industry

  • Carmen Pedroza-GutiérrezEmail author


Nowadays, women’s participation in the fishing industry is increasing worldwide and women are more involved in activities that were traditionally male-dominated. Many studies have highlighted women’s low-paid labor, but the influential positions women can hold in fisheries and in fish trading have rarely been described. Through exploring women’s experiences and hindrances in the second largest wholesale fish market in Mexico, this study identifies the main drivers that have led women in the Mercado del Mar to work in fish trade, to occupy managerial positions in fishing businesses, and to hold influential positions in this market. Twelve interviews were conducted with women entrepreneurs in the fish market coupled with observations of daily activities in the market and informal interviews with men business owners. Different pathways to and experiences of entering into the fishing business were found. All these have to do with family networking and the different skill sets that each woman possesses and develops. Some women started the family business as middle-women, peddling fish on a small-scale basis, eventually building their business, and achieving an influential position in the market. Other women inherited an already thriving business from their parents and learned how to manage it from a young age. Finally, the division of labor in the Mercado del Mar depends on the abilities of each person, how they perform their roles, and the support that family networks and cultural heritage represent rather than gendered social norms.


Women business leaders Value chain Wholesale fish markets Gender division of labor 



The author acknowledges the valuable suggestions made by the editors and the anonymous reviewers. She also would like to give a special thanks to Danika Kleiber and Holly Hapke for their very helpful comments.

Funding information

The study was funded by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) under grant PAPIIT IN301517.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unidad Académica de Estudios Regionales, Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores-Unidad Mérida, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéridaMexico

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