Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Are you someone who thinks that the Seafood Industry is only about boats, fish catches and a life on the ocean wave?

Well, think again...


Brendan Cavanagh - Ships Engineer
Alan O'Neill - Fisherman
Aileen Deasy - Seafood Technologist
Jane Kennedy - Research & Development Manager


Alan O'Neill, Fisherman

Alan O'Neill is a Skipper working out of Castletownbere in Cork and has his final Skippers Licience. This entitles him to skipper a boat up to 50m and allows him to skipper any fishing vessel worldwide. This ticket allows you more career pathways as you have a wider boat base to choose from.

Ask me your
first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

The main career milestones has been the completion of my Skippers' Tickets. I completed the first ticket in 2002 and this enabled me to skipper a boat up to 24m.

I then completed the 2nd Skippers Ticket in the Summer of 2003 which entitled me to skipper a boat up to 50m. I completed the final Ticket in June 06. This allows me to skipper any fishing vessel worldwide. This ticket allows you more career pathways as you have a wider boat base to choose from.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

I come from a fishing background. While my grandparents were farmers, my father went to sea when he was very young.

He brought his own boat before I was born and I grew up around it. He was my greatest influence as he continued to modernise the boat in accordence with fishing trends.

How did you go about getting your current job?

Fishing is the family business so I grew up with it.

Describe a typical day?

There is no typical day especially when out fishing. It varies from time of year and what fish you are catching. The weather also plays a huge part.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

Depending on your particular role in the boat it varies. As first mate, my main responsibilites include: taking a watch; insuring that all life safety and fire fighting equipment are in good working order and working on deck.

What are the main challenges?

The main challenges are: - the ever tightening quotas - the increasing costs of running vessels. - finding crew - Departmental constraints

What's cool?

Filling the boat with fish in one go.

What's not so cool?

Tearing the net and mending it. Getting no fish and therefore getting no money.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I am very patience in looking for fish. I have completed a wide spectrum of courses across various aspects of fishing.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

For my Leaving Cert, I took English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Engineering, Construction and Geography. Engineering proved useful as it introduced me to the different mechanisms needed to run basic engines.

This basic information helped me in my Skippers tickets. Geography was also useful for correct geographical terms and maths was essential for the Skippers ticket as it is very mathematically orientated - I would advise people to do Honours Maths, if possible.

What is your education to date?

Leaving Certificate - 2001

Skippers Ticket 1 - 2002

Skippers Ticket 2 - 2003

Skippers Ticket 3 - 2004 -2006

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

The basics are essential - fire fighting, life safety and first aid.

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

The day I walked out of Lesson Lane with my Final Skippers Ticket.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

I am ambitious - you can't stand still in this industry as it is constantly changing. I am quite patient - You may need to search a long time for fish and also you and the crew can be quite sleep deprived so patience is key.

You need to be quite organised - between paperwork and making sure you have everything you need for the trip.

What is your dream job?

To be the skipper of my own fishing trawler - predictable I know!

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Fishing is a very unpredictable job. While, financially, it can be in line with other jobs, it can have a negative impact on your home life. You cannot plan holidays etc. because the fishing season is so dependent on the weather.

You could be at home for a week between trips or you could be home a couple of hours. It is hard to peruse any planned leisure activities when you cannot tell anyone when you will be at home or when you will be at sea.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Some may think that you can go untrained into fishing. The best advice I would give people considering fishing as a profession is to get training. Fishing is an all encompassing career - when you need to go fishing, the rest of your life goes on hold unfortunately. It is very unpredictabe because you could be fishing non stop for three weeks and tied up for two.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Patience Persistence Ingenuity

What is your favourite music?

I have no preferences - a mixture of everything and anything. If I was to pick a favourite band it would have to be the Sawdoctors.

What is your favourite film?

Definitely Braveheart and all the Diehard movies.

What is your pet hate at work?

Having to fix a net we have torn.

What is your star sign?


Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

Engineering Course - 3 week basic course. This gives you the essentials.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

- If possible get experierence on the type of boat you would like to fish. - Working in fish factories to see what happens to the fish.

Ask a question about...
  • Career Development?
  • Current Job?
  • Education and Training?
  • Personal Qualities?
  • Advice for Others?
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