As a student studying Marine Biology, you often get told that there are very few job prospects in your field, mostly these comments come from students and professionals from other fields who don’t fully understand the scope of Marine Biology and all that it encompasses. I on the other hand try and stay positive as I know that there are many professions that are linked to the marine world in one way or another. Additionally I know that with the ocean degradation, overfishing and poor fishing practises that unfortunately are very prevalent around the world, there is an almost endless scope for improvement and jobs related to that.
University and education teaches you a lot, it teaches you about how bad practises affect the marine world and it teaches you about the different ideas and techniques scientists have thought about in order to improve the situation. What a university education often doesn’t encompass, often due to the lack of time, is the real life situation. It doesn’t mention how many people are actually involved in the process of getting a fish from the ocean to the plate of the consumer. How the reasoning and the resulting actions of these people involved are dependent on so many different factors, ranging from culture to education to individual personality. So this is what I wanted to learn, and why I wanted to do an internship with Sea Delight. Sea Delight’s strong focus on sustainability interested me both as a marine biology student and as a person soon entering the job market, because I think sustainability is the only long-term goal possible for the fishing industry.
There are many different things I learnt from my summer with Sea Delight and the many different people I met. From the men in suits working for the government, to the factory workers who could fillet a fish in a split second to the WWF personnel trying with limited funds to make a difference. From meeting all these people, the main thing I took away from my time at Sea Delight was that, in real life, education and spreading knowledge about the impacts of bad practises are absolutely fundamental to a ever achieving sustainability. I learnt that the consumer has possibly the greatest power of all when it comes to improving practises. If the consumer makes a conscious choice to purchase fish, whether at a restaurant or in the supermarket, that can be traced back to a sustainable fishing practise the whole system can change. We as the consumers would benefit from knowing where our food came from and what went into catching it, thus securing a better future. Companies like Sea Delight would get the support to continue with projects to help local fisheries with setting up more sustainable practises. And local fishermen could switch to more sustainable methods as they see that the demand exists, rather than being worried that someone with less ethical considerations will take their business. Additionally from a student’s perspective I had it reinforced that there are lots of different people with lots of different job descriptions who help make sure that this pathway is possible. I would encourage any student studying marine biology or any student who is interested in the fishing industry to do this type of internship and get some actual “real life” experience. University professors know a lot, but it is people who actually work in the industry every day, that have the applicable knowledge necessary to implement anything and make a lasting change.
ABOUT EMMY: Emmy Wassenius is pursuing a BSc in Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She has a great interest in the impact of fisheries on marine ecosystems and thus an interest in fisheries management. She interned during the Summer of 2013 with the Lagi Mixed Bottomfish BFPI, helping with data collection in order to assess the state of the fish stocks and the sustainability of the fisheries.