Marine Biologist: Marine Management
Pete Chaniotis (Age: mid-20’s)
Tell us about you and your job….
My job title is ‘Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Officer’. I work in Scotland for the JNCC – the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. This is an exciting time in the UK as we are putting in place new measures to protect and manage our seas. My job involves holding a lot of meetings and interviews with a wide range of people whose daily lives and work means that they are closely connected to the seas. These people include fishers, sailors, people with jobs in recreation connected to the sea, and people with jobs connected to ports. My role is to give them a chance to have their say in the future of marine conservation. I also communicate to them marine nature conservation initiatives that may affect them. The core of the job is therefore sharing information. If I was to describe my job in three words I would say it was “challenging, rewarding and inspiring!”
I have always loved the sea from a very young age. I remember my parents taking me on holiday to Greece and spending countless days fishing with my dad and snorkelling around looking for marine beasties. Good A-levels led to a BSc. in Marine Biology and an MSc. in Tropical Coastal Management, both from Newcastle University. The excellent experience I have had in the past working on marine protected areas in the Philippines and Indonesia, as part of my MSc research, contributed to me securing this current job. This included many fun and challenging activities from coral reef surveys using SCUBA to building relationships with people thousands of miles from home.
Calling yourself a marine biologist is limited, unless you have an understanding of how humans interact with the marine environment, and the effect this has. Life in the seas can only be safeguarded with people in decision making roles who understand both sides of the coin. This is what sustainable development is all about, and something I take very seriously in my role, contributing to the conservation of UK seas.
In the future I would love to go back out to the tropics and work on marine nature conservation again. I have been fortunate enough in my current job to learn a brand new set of skills which I can definitely now take and apply abroad.
What have been the best and worst parts of your career so far?
My favourite part of the job has to be meeting and building relationships with those who directly work in the marine environment. Each one has their own story to tell and it is fascinating to hear it. Going out on survey boats is also an exciting perk of the job! My best moments so far in my career have got to be my overseas fieldwork. Diving in the warm waters of the Philippines and Indonesia and enjoying cultures worlds apart from our own – I felt very privileged.
There are a lot of long meetings away from the office, but on the flip side these meetings are needed to make sure everyone is working together for the good of our marine environment. It also provides an opportunity to see new places and is great for networking!
How much money do you make?
About £25,000 per year.
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going into a similar career?
The advice I would give to anyone considering a similar career is to be persistent. Sometimes it feels like marine biology jobs are hard to get, but with new legislation that calls for marine protected areas to be developed right across the globe, jobs in the marine field – from dive surveyors, mapping scientists and environmental economists – are increasing. Gaining voluntary work experience is invaluable to give you the edge over others. My degree course was fantastic in that it provided me with the opportunity to do an overseas project. Employers are looking for initiative and staying power, as well as qualifications.
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