A ground-breaking initiative to encourage youngsters to consider a career in commercial fishing is being launched in secondary schools in Aberdeenshire.
The pilot scheme, led by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), aims to secure the future of Scottish fishing by encouraging a new generation of fishermen or women to go to sea.
Fishing is worth around £430m to the Scottish economy and also supports a wide range of associated industries.
Under the initiative, school-leavers in Aberdeenshire will be offered the opportunity to undertake a three-week introductory and safety course in fishing at the Scottish Maritime Academy (SMA) in Peterhead, followed by a two-month work placement aboard a working fishing vessel.
Participants who enjoy the experience and decide that fishing is their career of choice, will then have the opportunity to enrol in a two-year Modern Apprenticeship course leading to a qualified deckhand certification.
On completion of this, those looking for further advancement can join defined career pathway training for navigation officer or marine engineering qualifications. Such qualifications are transferable and can be used for careers in other marine sectors.
As well as the SFF, the scheme is supported by Aberdeenshire Council, Skills Development Scotland and the Sea Fish Industry Authority.
Derek Cardno, Safety & Training Officer for the SFF, said: ‘We are delighted to launch this pilot scheme in Aberdeenshire which, if successful, can hopefully be rolled out to other parts of the country.
‘Fishing is an exciting and challenging career that can offer real rewards in terms of job satisfaction and personal progression.
‘Fishing is one of Scotland’s most iconic and traditional industries and it is vital that there is a continual flow of new entrants coming into the sector.’
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Jim Gifford, said: ‘Aberdeenshire Council warmly welcomes the opportunity to provide funding and work with our partners to support this excellent pilot project.
‘Aberdeenshire lies at the very heart of the UK’s modern and sustainable fishing industry with two of Europe’s largest fishing ports, Peterhead and Fraserburgh, situated in the north-east.
‘The commercial fishing sector offers rewarding career opportunities for our young people and this scheme is a perfect opportunity for them to receive mentoring, practical experience and to discover what working in the industry is like.’
Linda Hope, Scottish Maritime Academy manager, said: ‘We are delighted to support this exciting project which will help to secure future new entrants into the fishing industry.
‘The three-week course will include Seafish mandatory safety courses and shore-based training covering gear and catch handling, net mending, rope work, navigation and boat handling.’
Safety will be a key underlying theme of the initial three-week onshore induction course and two- month work experience at sea.
The course will also provide youngsters with the opportunity to experience other sectors of the industry, such as fish processing and net making.
The seagoing element will be overseen by working skippers who have signed up to the initiative. Places for the new pilot scheme are limited but fully funded.