Sarah Birchenough Master of Marine Biology, 2010
Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officer
Sarah studied Master of Marine Biology within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.
Being at NOCS meant that you could be learning about marine biology in one of the best research centres in the country with access to all the facilities and labs, facilitating practical work and the ability to learn useful analysis skills
What made you choose the degree you studied?
I had always been interested in the marine environment and wanted to develop that interest into a career. I wanted to be able to contribute to an area of science that is constantly changing and evolving.
What made you select the University of Southampton to study that degree?
I wanted to be able to study at the National Oceanography Centre where I could be taught by lecturers who were at the fore front of their fields and the degree path also offered opportunities to learn a variety of disciplines within marine biology.
How did being located at NOCS benefit your time at university?
Being at NOCS meant that you could be learning about marine biology in one of the best research centres in the country with access to all the facilities and labs, facilitating practical work and the ability to learn useful analysis skills. I also benefitted in that you are taught by people at the fore front of their careers which adds interest to what they are teaching and allows lectures to branch out into current and relevant areas of the subject. You are also able to get involved with on-going projects and therefore dissertations etc. are not done just to tick a box but allow you to take part in important and valued research which can lead to published papers giving a great start to a career.
What did you enjoy most about your degree?
I enjoyed the practical and fieldwork aspect. I had the opportunity to gain experience of following a project all the way through from initial survey design to data collection and analysis. The fieldwork also covers a variety of environments and techniques preparing you for a career in the field.
How did your studies and experience at Southampton shape your future?
Studying at Southampton helped me to get the career that I have today. Taking the Fisheries and Aquaculture module informed me of fisheries management and then through my lecturer I found out about and was able to apply for the job I have now, without that contact I would have missed the opportunity. I find that the principles of good time management, working to deadlines and working as part of a team that I learnt during my degree have been very beneficial to me in my job and have allowed me to progress taking on additional responsibility.
What are you most proud of (or please give a highlight of your career so far)?
I am most proud of the work that I have undertaken to manage bait collection in the Southern IFCA District. I was given this task when I started as this was a new area for fisheries management and limited data existed on effort levels and impacts. I have developed an evidence base for this activity and am undertaking a part-time PhD with Southampton University at the NOC to develop the evidence for the impacts of this activity on habitats and species. I have become one of the leaders in this area of fisheries management through the 10 IFCAs operating nationally.
What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector?
Keep up to date with the industry, changing legislation and new developments. Build some practical skills in survey design and implementation and learn about marine policy and the way in which management of marine resources is carried out. Also stand out with some additional skills such as boat handling and competent crew accreditations.