High demand for training from young fishermen
A group of 10 young fishermen have set out on a course that will enable them to skipper boats of up to 30m or serve as mate on larger vessels.
It is the highest number of young trainees for almost 20 years, suggesting the next generation has confidence in the industry.
All but one of the 10 studying for the Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 Certificate of Competency, or Class 2 Skipper’s Ticket, at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway is from Shetland.
Fishing-related courses remain in high demand, reflecting a positive mood in the industry.
A further six men, three from Whalsay and three from Ireland, are on the Engineering Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1 Certificate of Competency, which enables them to be chief engineer on fishing boats.
And two groups of pelagic fishermen have completed a five-day ECDIS (electronic chart display and information) qualification which allows them to navigate using electronic systems rather than paper charts. Discussions are ongoing with manufacturer Furuno to host further specific training in this technology.
NAFC head of short nautical courses Mark Fullerton, a former fisherman, said: “It’s great to see so many guys coming here to study. Many of them are the sons of fishermen that I taught when I started out.
“They are laying strong foundations for the industry in Shetland and we are uniquely equipped here, in terms of staff, knowledge, gear and positioning, to take them on to the next stage.
“Professional development is as important in fishing as it is in any other industry and we work hard to accommodate as many of its requirements as we possibly can.”
Shetland Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Collins said it was encouraging that so many men were undertaking the three-month course.
“These are young men who are already well into their careers at sea, who have learned a lot but are keen to learn more.
“They are the next generation of skippers of Shetland boats, carrying on the 1,000-year-old tradition of commercial fishing in these islands.
“Fish stocks are at high levels as reflected in the past few years of good landings and the fleet is investing in the future of our most important industry.”
The NAFC Marine Centre, which employs more than 40, is busier than at any time since it opened 22 years ago, with the most students being taught the most courses.
As well as the fishing industry, demand from the aquaculture sector and shipping companies is at record levels.