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21/02/2012 Twenty-five people have signed up for the fishery liaison course being organised in Bergen in mid-March. The course is fully booked, and several people are on the waiting list.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and Directorate of Fisheries (Fdir) are organising the course – which is mandatory for everyone working as a fishery liaison on seismic vessels on the Norwegian shelf.
“It is positive to see that so many people want to take the course. The fishery liaisons perform a very important job when seismic vessels and fisheries work in the same waters,” says Jan Stenløkk from the NPD, who is responsible for the course’s technical content.
All vessels acquiring seismic data on the Norwegian shelf must have a fishery liaison on board. The objective of the mandatory course – which was held for the first time in 2009 – is to enable the fishery liaisons to do an even better job at sea.
The seismic industry must always yield when active fishing is taking place in an area. The fishery liaison’s job is to negotiate flexible solutions for how both parties can do their job. However, the liaison only has advisory authority; if the parties cannot agree, the Norwegian Coast Guard can be involved.
“But this very rarely happens,” says Stenløkk.
The course is one of several measures implemented by the authorities to improve coexistence between fisheries and the seismic industry.
“It’s a three-day course. Participants receive a comprehensive introduction in how to work as a fishery liaison, they are trained in statutes and regulations and receive good advice regarding conflict negotiations. Geology, communication and fish behaviour are also addressed,” says Stenløkk.
The course lecturers are NPD and Directorate of Fisheries’ employees. In addition, there are contributors from the Norwegian Coast Guard, the Institute of Marine Research, a fishery liaison and a psychologist.
The course participants must also pass a written test – in English as well – in order to be certified. Two years have passed since the last round of courses – and just over 100 people passed the course in 2009. The follow-up feedback has been positive:
“We hear that the training has had a positive effect. It is noticeable that people have taken a class, they better understand their own role and the quality of reporting has improved significantly,” Stenløkk comments.
In order to become a fishery liaison, you must at least have a navigation certificate as a Class C or equivalent fishing boat skipper. In addition, you must have a background as a fisherman and documented knowledge of the fishery activity in one or more of the waters where seismic vessels operate – south of 62 degrees north, between 62 and 67 degrees north and north of 67 degrees north.
You must also have a good grasp of written and verbal Norwegian and English, including technical fishery and maritime terminology.
The Directorate of Fisheries approves the fishery liaisons.
“My experience is that fishery liaisons are highly capable people, ranging from experienced fishermen to pilots and mates on cruise ships,” says Stenløkk.
The seismic activity on the Norwegian shelf has increased in recent years; consequently there is a great demand for fishery liaisons. The oil companies that acquire seismic datahire fishery liaisons.
“It is also important that the ‘new’ fishery liaisons are able to get started building knowledge and experience,” Stenløkk emphasises.