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Robert McMillan

Robert McMillanWhat is your job title?

I am a Marine and Fisheries Enforcement Officer, based in Lerwick in Shetland.

What are your main responsibilities?

I am responsible for carrying out land based inspection of fishing vessels, fish markets and seafood processing factories to ensure compliance with EU and UK legislation. To enable me to carry out these duties I am a warranted British Sea Fishery Officer. The warrant is issued by Scottish Ministers and gives me wide ranging powers to carry out my duties.

Under the Marine Bill, it is envisaged that we will shortly take on some new responsibilities which will include work with marine renewables and marine nature conservation.

What skills do you need to be able to do your job?

Good communication skills in order to speak to the various people I meet and work with on a daily basis.

Good written skills to produce reports for local management and statements used in the prosecution of offenders.

A knowledge of computer packages such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft word and various specialist packages for recording fish landings, inspections and quota uptake.

I work within a team of seven people so team working skills as well as the ability to build and maintain working relationships are vitally important.

The ability to interpret, understand and deploy complex domestic and EU legislation.

What qualifications do you need to do your job?

When I started with Marine Scotland, the minimum entry level was five standard grades or relevant experience within the fishing industry. However, these days degree level education is seen as the standard of qualification required with experience of the fishing industry or marine environment a suitable alternative.

What are the highlights of your job?

I am particularly interested in marine conservation, therefore my role in controlling the amounts of fish stock taken from the sea gives me complete job satisfaction. I also enjoy meeting and working with a diverse range of people in my day-to-day contact with industry personnel.

And any low points?

The winter weather in Shetland!

What advice would you give to someone interested in your line of work?

Carry out some research before considering a career as a Fisheries and Marine Enforcement Officer. The job offers a diverse range of work which is both interesting and rewarding, but we are also required to work in some difficult conditions at times e.g. long periods of time outdoors often in cold or bad weather, long periods of time in refrigerated markets or refrigerated trucks and often at unsocial hours of the day. The job also involves instances of dealing with conflict, difficult people and stressful circumstances particularly when prosecuting offenders. A strong character and naturally inquisitive mind coupled with good levels of physical strength are also key components for the role.

What interested you about your line of work?

When I was a child, my parents always spent their annual holidays in Arbroath which, at the time, was a major fishing port in Scotland. I developed a passion for the fishing industry and all things around the sea at this early age. I also had some trips out to sea on fishing boats from the port which cemented my interest in the industry. Thereafter, I always had one eye on the industry and kept up to date with developments and trends. When the chance to join the SFPA (now Marine Scotland Compliance) came up in 2005, it was the natural career move for me.

How long have you worked with Marine Scotland?

Six years

How did you get started with Marine Scotland?

Having spent almost 20 years in the Scottish Prison Service, I was seeking a change of career direction but wanted to stay within the government.

My interests in the fishing industry were such that I read the Industry newspaper, the Fishing News on a weekly basis. One week I noticed an advert for Fishery Officers. I applied and in October of 2005, I commenced work in Peterhead Fishery office as a Fishery Officer.

What would be your advice to your younger self when making subject, study and career choices?

Take your time to consider what career would suit you best based on the lifestyle you want to have. Research carefully what educational subjects are required for your chosen career and work hard to achieve good results in them. Consider further education at college or university because the better educated you are, the more chance you have of securing a good career and a better life. Try to get some work experience, on a part-time basis, while you are studying to get used to working for a living. Also take some time out to get some useful life skills. Once you have started on a chosen career path, it is often difficult to change this, so take your time.