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Interviewee: Shareen Davis

Role: Fisherman, industry advocate, and fisherman’s wife

Date of Interview: 9/22/07

Collection: Working Waterfront Festival Community Documentation Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Shareen Davis reflects on how women’s roles have changed and her own experience challenging the accepted role for a woman and her pride in her daughters and their strong ties to the fishing community.

Transcript:My own husband, I remember him telling me one time… I really thought that I would be very interested in all the politics that were going on with the fisheries, and expressed some interest when the first Magnuson Stevens stuff was going on in the late-70’s – expressed some interest in working with some of the people about it. I remember Ernie saying to me, “Nobody around the shore is going to take you serious.” And for me, usually what happens is, somebody tells me, “No, you can’t do it”, that’s just fuel for the fodder. And he didn’t mean it in a derogatory way; it’s just the nature of the culture,

And I didn’t really gain much respect in that way for a very long time. I tried joining the Fishermen’s Association in town and Ernie was very open about that and quickly was pooh-poohed by all these men that thought, “Well, what’s she doing there? It’s not a ladies night out to have dinner with your husband; this is about the real deals.”

I have two daughters. Morgan, my oldest is married and she is doing all the dockside support, book-keeping, that I used to do. Ernie’s family owns a dock in Chatham and we have people offload onto that dock. We sell ice and fuel, so she oversees the billing of that. Shannon, she’s in a PhD program at the College of William and Mary, and her focus is fisheries, women in the colonial era. And she shellfishes, and she fishes the weirs when she’s home.

I think the one thing that I’ve given them is teach them how to run a boat. I mean the proudest moment of my day was to watch my daughter, Shannon, who clammed her way through college, paid for college by clamming, to see her get in her own boat and head out into the harbor by herself to go to Monomoy and to clam. That was my proudest moment. And it thrilled me, because I was told nobody would take you serious on the water and women weren’t allowed on the water, and we’re bad luck. I mean when I fished, even owned the company, my crew’s would give me a hard time because I was a woman on the boat and I didn’t belong there. So to see them taking that step, it’s very… I’m very proud of that, but I’m proud of them. To see them, to advocate for people and help people and be compassionate and understand the bigger picture of community, it’s a proud moment for me.

To read Shareen's full transcript, click here.