Opening a window on an exciting new world
On Saturday 21 November, World Fisheries Day will be celebrated around the globe, highlighting the importance of an economic sector that produces around 80 million tons of food and employs at least 40 million people.
Two young Capetonians who have personal experience of the opportunities that exist in fishing are Craig Hendricks and Michel Layman. The two secured year-long internships with the South African Deep-Sea Trawling Industry Association (SADSTIA) in 2019 and now have permanent jobs at Sea Harvest’s Viking Fishing Division in Cape Town harbour.
Both are surprised and excited to be working in an industry they say is largely unknown, but offers extensive scope for personal and professional development.
“I never pictured myself working in this industry,” says Craig Hendricks, who holds a Master’s degree in Politics from the University of the Western Cape. During his internship, Hendricks worked as a researcher and administrator for the fisheries association, FishSA. As a result of his hard work and positive approach, he was offered a permanent position in the quality department at Sea Harvest.
“In the current economic climate, you appreciate any kind of work that comes your way,” says Hendricks candidly. “I never thought I’d be working in a quality department, learning all about food safety systems, the laboratory testing of fish and talking to customers all over the world, but my internship and my new job have given me an opportunity to learn all about the fishing industry, and to learn new skills.”
Michael Layman followed an entirely different path to securing a permanent job in the Fleet Operations department at Sea Harvest. He graduated with a Diploma in Business Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and is currently working towards his Bachelor of Technology (B Tech) degree in Project Management. During his internship year, Michael was placed in the Fleet Operations office at Sea Harvest and this is where he has secured a permanent job. The Fleet Operations department is the interface between the skippers and crew who work on fishing vessels, and the administration and management of the Viking Fishing Division. It is a fast-paced environment and every day is filled with planning, logistics and lively interactions with sea-going workers.
“I never thought I would be working in this kind of operational environment and at first it was overwhelming, but I am putting my learning into practice because part of my job involves the procurement of goods and services for the fishing operation,” says Layman.
During their internships, both Hendricks and Layman attended a leadership course, and since taking up his new position with Sea Harvest, Hendricks has attended a course on food safety and he will start intensive training in the field of logistics in 2021. Layman is focused on achieving his B Tech degree, but he expects there will be training opportunities for him in the future.
“There are so many opportunities for you to grow in this industry,” he says. “You can either be content with where you are, or you can tap into these opportunities and learn more, expose yourself to the environment and go all the way up. The opportunities are there for you to take.”
The SADSTIA Graduate Internship Programme commenced in 2019 when the companies active in South Africa’s deep-sea trawling industry teamed up with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, the conservation organisation WWF-South Africa, and the Transport Education and Training Authority to provide an opportunity for 20 new graduates to work in the field of fisheries management, aquaculture, environmental science and related fields. Since the completion of the first year of the Programme, eight interns have found permanent employment in the fishing industry.
“Our members recognise that youth unemployment is one of the most serious challenges facing South Africa today and the SADSTIA Graduate Internship Programme provides us with a vehicle to address this problem,” says Fisokuhle Mbatha, SADSTIA research assistant and administrator of the Programme. “It provides graduates with valuable work experience and in some cases enables them to establish a career in the fishing industry.”
A first call for applications for a position in the 2021 internship programme was made on 20 October and a call targeted specifically at Master’s students in the fields of marine biology, oceanography, fisheries science, biological science, marine conservation, aquaculture, fisheries management and environmental law, was made on November 18 (Call for graduates to apply for the SADSTIA academic grant for 2021).