Starting my marine traineeship

Hayden Hurst - Trainee Marine & Coastal Conservation Officer

April 2016

Spending much of my youth in and around the sea, I’ve always been captivated by the underwater world. As a child, I was lucky enough to sail around the Atlantic Ocean with my family. I was inspired by the pristine marine ecosystems, but I also experienced immense frustration seeing them spoiled by the careless actions of some people. This meant that by the time I finished school I felt there was no choice for me, but to embark on a BSc degree in Marine Biology at Plymouth University to learn more about the seas and how to protect them. I immersed myself in the marine world, gaining practical maritime qualifications in SCUBA diving, powerboat handing, and sea survival during my studies. Wanting to make the most of my degree, I opted to undertake a placement year at a marine ecology lab in Australia before starting my final year.

In Australia I worked as a research assistant, jumping in at the deep end and getting involved with all manner of cutting edge research into the various impacts of human activities in the marine environment. The placement culminated in me conducting my own research on the effects of urban development in Sydney Harbour on invertebrate communities. I still had time “down under” after finishing the placement, so I travelled, expanding my diving qualifications and getting up close and personal with incredible marine life including manta rays, turtles and whale sharks. Apart from being a hugely inspiring experience, my placement also woke me up to the reality of just how tough it would be to make a career in marine biology. I also decided that I wanted work in the UK, as we have such amazing marine life right on our doorstep which is not always fully appreciated! Jobs are limited, so I knew that I needed to do my absolute best at university to achieve my goal.

With this motivating me on, I worked hard and graduated with first-class honours. Getting a job was the next step, but even with my placement year and qualifications I still couldn’t find full time employment in marine conservation. I volunteered with the British Trust for Ornithology and my local Wildlife Trust and eventually heard about various UK traineeships which could provide the ideal kick-start to my professional career. The position of Trainee Marine and Coastal Conservation Officer immediately jumped out at me as the perfect opportunity, as it offers personal development through training, on the job experience, and opportunities with conservation bodies such as the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority. I’m just three days in so far, and already I can’t get enough of it…….

January 2017

9 months on since my last update and so much has changed for me in that time. I’ve been trained in GIS mapping, first aid, volunteer management, and more! I’ve conducted surveys of sea birds, seals, honeycomb worm reefs, and more! I’ve raised awareness of marine life in the Irish Sea by running events, presentations, workshops and more! I’ve taught educational sessions for everyone from primary school children to university students, and have taken on the responsibilities of project managing Shoresearch, Walney Wader Festival, and a research project for Natural England monitoring invasive species in the North West.

Accomplishing all of this (and much more!) in just 9 months has been an indescribably invaluable experience. My goal from the outset of the traineeship was to work for an IFCA, whose role it is to manage the marine environment and its fisheries resources in a sustainable manner. The traineeship has helped me achieve these goals, as I have just secured a job as an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officer with Kent and Essex IFCA. Without the diverse experiences and extensive skillset I have developed during my traineeship, I wouldn’t have been able to secure this position, so for this I am extremely grateful. I feel hugely privileged to have worked with passionate individuals from a diverse range of organisations, who are ultimately working towards a common goal of increased sustainability for our seas and the wildlife that inhabits them.