The Female Fisherman 'overwhelmed' by national award win
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
She entered the industry four years ago and has been a trailblazer for female fishermen and now Ashley Mullenger has been named fisherman of the year.
Mrs Mullenger has been commercially fishing off Wells' coast since 2018. On May 12 she was awarded Under 10 metres Fisherman of the year at the Fishing News Awards in Aberdeen.
Her fishing career started in 2009 when she booked an angling day trip. From there she became a regular, before being offered the job nine years later.
Since starting in the role, she has been a huge advocate for both the industry as a whole and female fishermen, through her Instagram profile The Female Fisherman, which has obtained over 7,400 followers - as well as appearances on TV, including being interviewed by Piers Morgan.
The 35-year-old, who is the first woman to win the title, believes the award marks a real moment of acceptance.
“When they said my name, I did get a little emotional and had to suck it up a little because it is an acceptance of me as a woman in the industry,” she said.
“I felt that I had already been accepted in the role, but to have that national acceptance blew me away.
“For other women to see a woman doing what is historically a man’s job and seeing how the industry has got behind me was overwhelming.
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“For women as well, they love to see others doing something different, any gender can do any role, and seeing something stereotypically done by a man is empowering.”
Following the award, Mrs Mullenger was at a fishing expo, called Skipper Expo, where she was greeted with messages of congratulations for her award win.
While there, she believes that more women have become fishermen, which is a huge help for the industry.
“I was talking to someone about women in the industry, I could only think of around four others when I started, now it is more like 16 or 17 in the space of three years,” she said.
“The industry can struggle to recruit and we have alienated almost half the population because of stereotypes, not on purpose. So, let's pull this into the 21st century.”
Now back at work in Wells, Mrs Mullenger said that she is just enjoying the here and now: “If it ain’t broke don't fix it.”