Shetland leads the way in many areas of marine science and technology but needs to get that message out to the wider world, according to the new director of the NAFC Marine Centre.
Professor David Gray said he had been “blown away” by the centre when he arrived to be interviewed for the job last year and that he believed it could be instrumental in bringing people and knowledge back into the local economy.
He was speaking at an event hosted by the Scalloway college on Friday, attended by industry representatives, council members and officials, MP Alistair Carmichael and MSP Tavish Scott.
Professor Gray said: “I grew up in Cornwall surrounded by the sea and the fishing industry.
I also watched as that fishing industry was decimated and witnessed the effect that had on the community and its economy. It’s from there that my passion for all things marine developed.
“This position as director of the centre is my dream job. It’s where I can bring together my managerial experience gained from working in universities throughout the world with my marine biology background.
“Shetland and Cornwall are very similar. Both are surrounded by the sea and their economies are largely focused on the marine industry.
“Before I came here for my interview, I hadn’t really heard of the NAFC Marine Centre. But when I arrived I was blown away by the resource you have here. The quality, commitment and dedication of the staff and the first class equipment at the centre are hidden gems.”
Professor Gray said it was important to get the message across widely that Shetland was a leader in marine science and technology, and in marine spatial planning.
“We have pockets of excellence that we want to make the most of to bring people and knowledge back into the local economy.”
He said the centre was there for everyone involved in any way in the marine sector.
“Our relationship with you is crucial. It is already a good one but we want to make it even better. We would like to help in the decisions you make about the future of the maritime industries.”
Professor Gray concluded: “First, be very proud of what you have here, both the centre and Shetland as a whole. Second, we are here to work with you and support you. Please talk to us if there is something you’d like our help with or advice on. Finally, we are here to help get Shetland on the map and move it forward to get more money into the economy. We are here first and foremost for you.”