IWD 2023: Ace fisherwoman Asha Nelson reigns supreme at sea
Alligator Pond Fisherwoman Asha Nelson poses beside one of two boats that she is captain of

IN many instances women are not given the kind of recognition they deserve compared to the men they share professions with, but that is far from reality in Alligator Pond, Manchester, where 25-year-old Asha Nelson, a fisherwoman and boat captain, reigns supreme at sea.

On a trip to Alligator Pond recently, All Woman met Nelson’s male colleagues who were excited as they told our team how they are awed by watching her dominate on the water.

Fisherman Linton Forde introduced Nelson to the business of fishing when she was around 10 years old. Her astronomical advancement over time has earned his respect.

“Everybody get dem talent and right now what she is doing is her talent. There is no other woman on this beach who can do what she is doing. A just one other woman do fishing and she nuh bad like Asha. Nuff a di things weh me can’t do, she help me out with it. Me respect her a whole lot. A me bring her inna di thing from she was much smaller. Mi show her the code of the sea so till she come perfect more than me. She is captain of the two boats called Man of God and Beach Avenue,” he explained.

“A me and her inna everything same way but a she a di captain and call it seh me a di bow man. She handles herself very well. It can’t get no better. Sometimes I watch her handling herself and I have to congratulate her. Mi proud a her.”

An Observer team had the opportunity recently of going to sea on one of the boats captained by Nelson. She controlled the boat’s engine, steered the boat and monitored the global positioning system (GPS) which she used to locate fish pots set at sea. She also hauled the pots in to secure catch of varying sizes.

The operation led by Nelson was seamless and it was clear that she was cut out to be a fisherwoman.

Asha Neslon retrieves boating equipment which includes a general positioning system (GPS) before boarding the Man of God fishing boat to head back to sea.

Fishermen Michael Nelson, Vandal Forde and another who gave his name as “Shella Man” were ecstatic as they sang praises to Nelson.

According to Michael Nelson, “She is a complete fisherwoman” who can “do everything in fishing, from fitting up fish nets to doing the most complex of tasks.

“Mi never see none before like this young lady. To us, she is number one in the world. She shoot fish and if the net fasten, she will dive and fix it.”

Vandal described Nelson as “the best woman that God ever created”.

“When we go to sea and get tired, she can’t tired and she does everything on the sea. I am 56 years old and she can fish better than me. She can mend nets, fix fish pots, she can dive and she can shoot fish. She is the best. A di only woman me see stay suh from me born.”

Shella Man is so impressed by her gift that he doesn’t believe there is any other woman in the world with her level of prowess.

Nelson acknowledged that her future in fishing is bright and promising and shared with All Woman that she does not see herself doing any other job than fishing.

She was pushed to dedicate her life to fishing after encountering issues at school because of the natural colour of her hair.

Linton Ford and Asha Nelson haul in a fish pot at sea. Both explained that this time of year is not the best for fishing.

“When mi used to go school, BB Coke High, every morning dem tun mi back because mi hair was too red. They said I bleached my hair and no matter how mi tell dem no, dem naa listen. I never got to fully finish school but mi naa mek dat hold me back.

“I plan to do this for a long time. Fishing is profitable but you have to have your head on your body. You have to be able to steer your business fi keep it up. If not, the business ago lef you. As I was telling you, this gentleman, Linton Ford, got me used to the fishing. I liked it so I stick to it. I never considered doing any other type of work.

“My life is straight fishing. That mek everybody come and big me up. Mi feel good bout it. There is another woman out here on the beach who go out there too but they are not rough like me.”

Although fishing is an easy activity for Nelson and allows her to feed herself and her family, the business is a tough one and is not for the faint of heart, according to her. It is also an expensive field.

“A di roughest time this mi a face inuh. A the time for it. Usually when it touch dem month ya, you know seh a bad time. When it go back down inna May, a good time again. A nuff time mi face some hard weather. Some of the times sea bruk inna di boat. Sometimes I have to fight with the sea current to how it strong.”

“It well difficult fi maintain a boat. Di cost gone up now. A over $1 million fi a boat and over $700,000 fi di engine. One wire weh we use fi mek fish pot costs $30,000 and we have to pay $15,000 to give a man to look after it. We have to buy rope for $5,000 a coil. We have to buy lace wire. Is a whole heap a something we have to buy to go fishing. It well hard.”

She continued: “If you have the pot dem a work and thing you will mek back your money plus profit. No woman nuh really want dem yah kinda life yah. As me would say, mi mek fi this. Weh some a di woman dem do, me nuh do it. Mi nuh wear nothing false, whether it be hair, eyelash or fingernail. A straight natural. If net hitch the fingernail, a trouble dat. All of the false fingernail will come off along with your real fingernail.”

Jason Cross

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