Case Study - 3-Week Introduction to Commercial Fishing Course
Michael Mitchell, Skipper of CABERFEIDH BH28 completed the 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing course for new entrants and now runs his own vessel catching mainly lobster and crab. Michael believes that the 3-week course provided him with the knowledge and information required to become a fisherman.
My working career started in the motor trade. My brother and I had a partnership in a garage called Grahams of Colne Ltd based in Colne Lancashire.
Whilst working at the garage, I used to regularly read Fishing News and in the summer of 2014 I was struck by a picture of recent trainees and the accompanying article highlighting that they'd passed the 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing course for New Entrants. The course had been run by Dennis Osbourne who is a Seafish Approved Training Provider, and manager of the Fishermen`s training centre in Amble, Northumberland. The article lead to me calling Dennis and booking myself onto the next course which was planned for August/September 2014.
I have always been interested in fishing; I love the sea and the freedom that fishing brings. As a youngster I spent many happy days on the west coast of England, and was fascinated by the various fishing vessels. I "dreamed" of owning my own vessel one day.
The 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing Course prepared me for a career in the fishing industry by providing me with knowledge and information on the many aspects of becoming a fisherman. The safety training, engineering and navigational awareness, as well as quality issues covered in the care of the catch unit are all vital skills for a fisherman to have. The practical aspects such as splicing, net mending and knot tying are all required day-to-day on a fishing vessel so it helps to have mastered these skills before going to sea. The course also gives trainees the opportunity to speak to industry experts and get advice and guidance.
Having the knowledge and understanding gained on the course gave me the "confidence boost" needed to take that first step onto a vessel.
After completing the training, I was so confident that a fishing career was right for me that I sold my half share in the motor business, moved from Lancashire to Amble, and with the help of Dennis Osborne and some of the local fishing community, I went on and purchased my own 8m vessel.
With passion, commitment, training and the vessel, the dream of being a fisherman became my reality. Fishing mainly for lobster and crab, I went on to achieve my under 16.5m skippers ticket to advance my skills and knowledge.
Individuals considering a career as a fisherman need to be aware that it is very hard work and comes with unsociable and long working hours. There is mixed earning potential and some weeks you get no income at all, so you need to be disciplined when the going is good to make sure that you have some money put aside.
The job can be dirty at times and there is also an element of danger, but the benefits of having the freedom of the open sea make up for this. Doing hands on work in an adventurous setting and working alongside a select community of people, is very rewarding and satisfying.
To progress to become a skipper of a vessel, you need business sense as well as a very good understanding of the industry, and of course to have completed all necessary training to ensure you are competent to operate a fishing vessel.
It would be great to increase awareness of what is involved in a fishing career. Fishermen can start as learner deck crew and one day work their way up to being skipper of large fishing vessel - surely that's got to be appealing to anyone who is entrepreneurial and loves the sea!