Celebrating Science and Year of the Young Person with John Bruce

April 26, 2018 by No Comments | Category Compliance, Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths_STEM, Year of the Young Person

As we mentioned in one of our earlier blogs, 2018 is both the Year of the Engineer and the Year of the Young Person – and this blog is about one of our many colleagues who are inspiring the next generation with their Outreach work.

This is John, one of our Business Managers within Marine Scotland. Read on to find out what he gets up to.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m John Bruce, one of 5 Business Managers with Marine Scotland, Compliance. I manage 16 staff in the 5 district offices that comprise Area 2 in the north of Scotland. These are Ullapool, Lochinver, Kinlochbervie, Scrabster and Kirkwall. My job is really about making sure officers at the coast have the tools they require to ensure compliance of the vast array of EU, UK and Scottish legislation that covers the marine environment and that they do this in a consistent manner along with their counterparts in the other 13 offices dotted around the Scottish coast.

What’s your career path been – how did you get here?

I grew up in the fishing community in the Fit o‘ the Toon in Arbroath. All my father’s side of the family were fishers and I’ve been involved in the industry since I could walk. Everything from cleaning the boat out on a Friday for pocket money, to mending wooden boxes (yes I am that old) and delivering ice from the back of a flatbed lorry at weekends. I first went to sea properly at 13, spending 5 days pair trawling in the Forties. My dad thought it would put me off a career in fishing. However I loved it. Most holidays from there on in were spent fishing. Everyone told me not to do it but it’s in the blood and I was well, excuse the pun, hooked. Despite this I could, however, see the sharp decline in the industry in front of my eyes so once I finished school, and with the advice of my peers ringing in my ears, I very reluctantly started University in Dundee studying, ironically, Business Management. I absolutely hated it. So at 17, I applied to an advert in the Fishing News for a Fishery Officer but given one of the criteria was that you had to be 18, I didn’t give it much hope. Much to my amazement I was given an interview and then offered a job but could only start when turned 18.

That led to my first posting as Fishery Officer in Lochinver in early 1991 and later that year I transferred to Campbeltown. I had an extremely enjoyable 4 years there before being transferred to Peterhead in a major coastal restructure in 1995. I stayed there as a Fishery Officer until 2000 where I took up promotion to Senior Fishery Officer in Kirkwall, which is still my favourite posting. In 2004 I was transferred to Ullapool and in 2005 I was promoted to Enforcement Manager which meant I took on management responsibility for Lochinver and Kinlochbervie. Then in 2008 as part of the preparation to the transition to Marine Scotland I became a Business Manager with responsibility then for Portree, Stornoway, Ullapool, Lochinver and Kinlochbervie.

What made you decide to be involved in Outreach?

Having been involved in the fishing industry all my life, I obviously have a passion for it and I’ve always been willing to talk to anyone about it who asks. The public have a huge appetite for knowledge about the industry and are always asking questions. Ask any officer who has stood on a pier when a busload of tourists arrives! I was first approached by a local school who knew what I did and wanted me to give a talk on fishing to all age groups. It seemed to go down very well with the young people and probably even more so with the teachers who asked me where to apply. From there I became aware of STEM programme and became an Ambassador which led to me really discovering how much interest there is in the industry and since then I have delivered talks, demonstrations and even been involved science fairs at schools all over the highlands.

What do you enjoy most about doing Outreach?

At every event the enthusiasm from young people, parents and teachers just pours out. Everyone wants to know, learn and become better informed about the marine environment and how to look after it and manage the resources it provides more responsibly. I love the passion that those who I speak to then display once they have learned and had their questions asked. Hopefully this triggers a lightbulb moment for them and they will want to become involved in the Marine Industry and also hopefully it makes them think about the environment and then the next generation will look after it better than perhaps previous generations have.

Would you encourage others to get involved in Outreach too?

Definitely. It’s a great way to get across a positive message of what Marine Scotland does to the general public. On a personal level I find the level of engagement with all ages really rewarding and for those of us who live in remote communities it provides that community with great access to something that they would possibly only be available to them if they travelled a few hundred miles to a hub such as Inverness.

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