As part of our Sector Spotlight on Aquaculture and Fisheries, we have spoken to Fiona Matheson, the Secretary to Orkney Fisheries Association. Fiona never knew what it was she wanted to do as a career, only that she wanted to make a difference where she saw things were unfair to people.
Can you describe a typical day as a Secretary?
“I run a membership organisation for fishermen called the Orkney Fisheries Association – so on paper my job is admin based but it is actually a lot more than that. It is office based role in Kirkwall but I could be doing a large range of tasks.
“I might be booking my travel to meetings in Edinburgh or even Norway or Spain where I will be promoting Orkney’s fishing interests to others. I could be writing a response to a government consultation on new rules on salmon farming or how fishing gear is clearly marked in the sea. I might have to update our website or find 12 interesting photos for the annual calendar. I could be helping to plan a seafood event or booking a band for our AGM.
“I work with fishermen in Orkney and people in government and universities all around the country. I look for ways to find money to run projects, which could be providing safety equipment for boats or improving science that helps to ensure the fish stocks in Orkney are fished sustainably. Fishermen come to me with ideas for research or might have a problem with some aspect of the rules and regulations which they don’t think work properly and I will investigate and try and get the rules changed.”
How did you end up in your current role as a Secretary?
“I went to art college from school then trained as a teacher but did many other different jobs along the way. I worked in pubs, on play schemes, cleaning and looking after old folk. I moved jobs frequently because secure jobs were not easy to find.
“It was never a plan to work in this field and I never really knew what I wanted to do – only that I wanted to make a difference where I saw things were unfair to people. I didn’t know very much about this job when I applied, but was lucky to be given the chance to prove myself. It was a steep learning curve, especially in regard to aspects of finance and marine biology which were completely new to me and where I did not feel confident.”
What is the best thing about being a Secretary?
“No two days are the same, it is always changing and is never boring, and it is all about people as well as fish.”
What is the worst thing about being a Secretary?
“Being in the office on a sunny day.”
What skills do you need to be a Secretary?
“Being able to talk to anyone from any walk of life. Be able to read and make sense of government documents and translate them so that others do not have to read them. Be able and willing to learn how to do things on your own and learn new skills if you have to.”
What qualifications do you have?
Why would you recommend a career in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Industry?
“I would definitely recommend fisheries as a career area as there is a lot of change afoot with opportunities for marine biologists, scientists, fisheries managers, representatives (like me) and it is a fascinating and absorbing area of interest.”
Visit Orkney Fisheries Association on their:
Website - https://www.orkneyfisheries.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Orkneyfisheries/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/orkneyfisheries