Are you someone who thinks that the Seafood Industry is only about boats, fish catches and a life on the ocean wave? Well, think again. The modern Seafood Industry includes a wide range of specialisations and career opportunities to suit every skill set.
The basic requirements are QQI certificates in commercial fishing, aquaculture or seafood processing. BIM Safety Card, and the BIM Passenger Boat Card are extremely popular and offer dual certification. These are accredited by QQI at Level 5 and approved by the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The Irish Seafood industry is currently valued at 1.1bn euro and employs 11,000 people, mainly in coastal counties from Donegal to Louth.
Many of those involved in fishing and aquaculture have the entrepreneurial drive to develop and manage their own businesses, be it trawler, fish-farm processing business or retail unit.
Alan O'Neill is a Skipper working out of Castletownbere in Cork and has his final Skippers Licience. This entitles him to skipper a boat up to 50m and allows him to skipper any fishing vessel worldwide. This ticket allows you more career pathways as you have a wider boat base to choose from.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
The main career milestones has been the completion of my Skippers' Tickets. I completed the first ticket in 2002 and this enabled me to skipper a boat up to 24m.
I then completed the 2nd Skippers Ticket in the Summer of 2003 which entitled me to skipper a boat up to 50m. I completed the final Ticket in June 06. This allows me to skipper any fishing vessel worldwide. This ticket allows you more career pathways as you have a wider boat base to choose from.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Describe a typical day?
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
For my Leaving Cert, I took English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Engineering, Construction and Geography. Engineering proved useful as it introduced me to the different mechanisms needed to run basic engines.
This basic information helped me in my Skippers tickets. Geography was also useful for correct geographical terms and maths was essential for the Skippers ticket as it is very mathematically orientated - I would advise people to do Honours Maths, if possible.
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I am ambitious - you can't stand still in this industry as it is constantly changing. I am quite patient - You may need to search a long time for fish and also you and the crew can be quite sleep deprived so patience is key.
You need to be quite organised - between paperwork and making sure you have everything you need for the trip.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Fishing is a very unpredictable job. While, financially, it can be in line with other jobs, it can have a negative impact on your home life. You cannot plan holidays etc. because the fishing season is so dependent on the weather.
You could be at home for a week between trips or you could be home a couple of hours. It is hard to peruse any planned leisure activities when you cannot tell anyone when you will be at home or when you will be at sea.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Some may think that you can go untrained into fishing. The best advice I would give people considering fishing as a profession is to get training. Fishing is an all encompassing career - when you need to go fishing, the rest of your life goes on hold unfortunately. It is very unpredictabe because you could be fishing non stop for three weeks and tied up for two.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
What is your favourite music?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?