NAFC Marine Centre lecturer Leslie Tait, from Trondra, retired yesterday after 15 years of training fishermen and other seafarers at the Scalloway-based college.
Mr Tait, who grew up in Burra, previously spent 34 years as a fisherman, including the last 19 as skipper of the whitefish boat Harmony. He was awarded an MBE last year for his services to the fishing industry.
He joined the NAFC in 2002 as a lecturer in navigation and seamanship, with the extensive knowledge and experience he had gained as a fisherman seen as making him ideally suited to help train new generations of fishermen and other seafarers.
NAFC fisheries and nautical training section leader Mark Fullerton said Mr Tait’s experience had made him an extremely versatile lecturer. He had been able to cover a wide range of subjects from teaching theory in a classroom to practical boat handling and navigation at sea.
Mr Fullerton said: “His patience and a pleasant attitude in the class has led to him being a very respected member of staff at the NAFC.”
One of Mr Tait’s former students is Ian Shearer, skipper of the local whitefish fishing boat Courageous (and winner of the Fishing News Young Fisherman of the Year award in 2016).
He said: “Leslie was a big help to us from the courses he taught to all the experience and advice he passed on right from when we started out as trainees. He will be a big miss.”
Mr Tait also helped to operate the NAFC research and survey vessels and contributed to many of the fisheries research projects, surveys and other work undertaken by the centre, and played a key role in liaising between the centre and the fishing industry.
Joint head of marine scienceand technology Chevonne Angus said he was hugely valued and respected and had made an important contribution to the fisheries research that we have conducted over the years.
Dr Angus said: “He has been a guiding hand during the development of many research projects so that we remain focused in meeting the needs of industry. We will greatly miss his knowledge and his can-do and hands-on approach.”
In addition to his work at the NAFC, Mr Tait served for the last nine years as chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association, and for eight years before that as chairman of the Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation.
Mr Tait said: “I have enjoyed working at the NAFC and particularly being able to pass on my knowledge and experience to new generations of fishermen.
“Working with these fishermen, both as new-entrants and as they progress to their skipper’s tickets, gives me great confidence in the future of the fishing industry in Shetland.
“However, after 15 years of teaching I am looking forward to spending some more time working with my own boat, although I will continue to take a close interest in the local fishing industry and will be staying on as chairman of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association for the time being.”