Six Shetland men are currently studying for their Class Two Skipper’s Ticket at the NAFC Marine Centre – and for the first time in many years all the students are local.
The three-month course will finish in July, following a week of written assessments and an oral exam.
The successful students will qualify with a Certificate of Competency Class Two Fishing Ticket which will allow them to skipper fishing boats of up to 30 metres in length. The course covers topics including navigation, safety management, stability, meteorology, in-depth safety and rule of the road.
Maritime studies and fisheries lecturer Mark Fullerton said: “It is very encouraging to see a full class of Shetland men sign up this year, as they pursue a career at sea.
“When the centre first opened in 1992 this was one of the first courses we offered. At that time the Shetland fleet was expanding and the demand for skipper’s tickets was very high.
“Over 20 years on, Shetland’s fish catching sector is still an important part of our economy, directly employing around 430 people throughout the isles, and we are pleased to be supporting the fishermen through the training courses we offer here at the centre.
“Following successful completion of the course, and another period of sea time, the men will be in a position to sit their Class One Skipper’s Ticket which will allow them to skipper a boat of any size.”
Student Ian Shearer said: “I have always been interested in fishing and have been with the Defiant ever since I left school. There is a lot of fish around just now and for me there’s no better place to work than on a fishing boat.”
Fellow student Gary Sandison said: “I have been working on my dad’s boat the Arcturus and I am keen to get my ticket so that I too can skipper the boat in the future.”
NAFC liaison officer Caroline Hepburn added: “This ticket does not just apply to fishing vessels – it also allows those who successfully complete the course to go on to skipper small workboats under 24 metre and commercial yachts under 200 tonnes.
“This is a very worthwhile qualification to achieve that is relevant across a wide range of maritime sectors.”