Fisokuhle Mbatha, has begun a year long internship with SADSTIA.

The UCT graduate will spend the next 12 months working closely with SADSTIA secretary, Johann Augustyn, gaining as much knowledge about the deep-sea trawling industry and its management as she can.

Fisokuhle took up her position with SADSTIA following a rigorous interview and assessment process that was facilitated by WWF-South Africa. She is one of several young professionals to be placed in appropriate organisations by WWF’s Graduate Internship Programme. The Programme enables young professionals with qualifications in the fields of natural science, law, engineering, business or social science to gain valuable experience, build meaningful networks and contribute to the long-term improvement of the environment.

“SADSTIA was my first choice,” says Fisokuhle who was interviewed by four organisations before being offered an internship with SADSTIA. Her goal is to pursue a career in fisheries management and she is very excited to be working for SADSTIA and in an environment where she comes into contact with the issues and personalities that characterise South Africa’s diverse and colourful commercial fishing industry every day.

Remarkably, prior to her starting a degree in Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town, Fisokuhle had no experience of the sea whatsoever. But a field trip that she attended in her first year of university, when she learnt about the plants and animals that inhabit the rocky shores around Cape Town, was enough to convince her that she wanted to learn more about the marine environment. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and then read for an Honours degree in Ocean and Atmospheric Science. Recently Fisokuhle submitted a thesis to UCT − the final step in her endeavours to attain a Masters Degree in Applied Marine Science, also from UCT.

Like many South Africans of her generation, Fisokuhle is determined to help other young people to achieve their dreams and gain an education. She mentors a learner who is participating in the national Science Expo and gives motivational talks to young people with epilepsy.

“I make sure every day is a productive day,” says Fisokuhle with a gentle smile. “What inspires me is knowing that I’ve had an impact, that I’ve changed lives.”