What is your job title?
I am currently the Commanding Officer of MPV Minna.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am responsible for the ship, the crew and our operational capability.
What skills do you need to be able to do your job?
Very wide ranging skills are necessary because the job varies so much from day to day and season to season.
Good communication skills are important because you spend so much time talking to different people who hold different jobs. Communication it is really important to solve problems, sometimes quite quickly.
One essential skill to have is ship-handling which you don’t often find on college curricula! So it has to be learnt as part of your seafaring experience.
What qualifications do you need to do your job?
I have a Master Mariner Class 1 Foreign Going Certificate of Competency.
That certificate, or ticket as we often say, includes a wide range of other qualifications including a Ship Captain’s Medical Certificate and sending Morse code by light at 6 words per minute.
I also have a Fast Rescue Boat qualification and a Ship Security Certificate.
All in all the qualifications reflect how broad the requirements of the job really are.
What are the highlights of your job?
Ships, boats and the sea around Scotland.
Ever since I was 9 years old and stood on the CalMac ferry from Oban to Mull and saw the vast, sparkling expanse of ocean before me I knew that I wanted to be a part of that adventure.
And any low points?
It’s not always so sparkling, that’s for sure! When the ship plunges into enormous breaking, foaming monsters 100 miles north of Shetland and there’s nowhere to go but southward at a slow walking pace, you tend to think that a librarian may have made a better career choice!
What advice would you give to someone interested in your line of work?
You have to start somewhere and the seafaring world is still brim full of choices and opportunities. I would suggest that you start by going sailing at your local dinghy sailing club and get your feet wet then see what happens.
Alternatively phone up Marine Scotland and ask to visit one of the ships as a school project.
What interested you about your line of work?
Ever since I first went to sea I was interested in fisheries. Not necessarily fishing itself but the broader view. Years ago I was in Mexico as 3rd Mate of a cargo ship and I visited an American Tunnyman. In the ship’s hold was 1000 tonnes of deep frozen Bluefin Tuna and seeing that really made me think about the impact of the fishery.
I was Captain of a fishery protection vessel in Sierra Leone as well where we really struggled to make headway against a tide of illegal, or rather unwanted, fishing practise.
So the conservation issues here in Scotland certainly mean something to me and I hope we can contribute to the overall picture.
How long have you worked with Marine Scotland?
I started with the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) about 15 years ago which is now Marine Scotland Compliance.
What would be your advice to your younger self when making subject, study and career choices?
I guess we all know it is much easier to look back than look forward so in all honesty I would let myself discover most of life’s lessons for myself.
I realise as I look back that a really essential ingredient of enjoying your life is to have a broad range of experience.
Broadening your vision may allow you tackle any job anywhere provided you apply yourself to the different principles involved. Don’t get bogged down in one thing! There are always new ways and new paths where you can flourish.
*Read more about a typical day for Paul on board the MPV Minna