An Interview with WiseOceans… Tom Birbeck from ARC Marine
This week we chat to Tom, one of the Founders of ARC Marine, read more about the work of ARC Marine and what drove Tom to set it up.
Name: Tom Birbeck
Job Title: Co-Founder
Organisation: ARC Marine
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
Both founders of ARC Marine have been keen divers from a young age and were inspired from seeing the devastation of bottom trawling in Lyme bay on the South West coast of England. We then thought up a solution to repair and rebuild the damaged marine habitat.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
Everyone in our organisation had to become HSE commercial divers. This is essential in diving to the highest standards in the safest way to create large areas of artificial reef habitats. We also had to prioritise the company over our social lives as it was running alongside our full time jobs in the early stages.
- How did you land your current job/position?
Hard work and the determination to see it through!
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Any day on the boat surveying or going for a dive is pretty hard to beat. Also seeing the wildlife adhere to our structures in such a rapid way was brilliant to watch. We had 3 commercial fish stocks using our reef in just 10 days, including edible crabs, scallops and brown shrimp!
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Yes definitely. ARC Marine is the first of its kind and is leading the way in delivering an industry driven on business demand rather then charitable cause. We believe the major ocean problems can be fixed by the current industry embracing the change rather than charitable donations trying to treat the effects.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
How slow government bodies move with projects like these. If we are to tackle the massive problems with our oceans we need to act quickly and we need to act now.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Get out there and find something you want to be apart of. If there isn’t a program that meets your passion then start one! Chances are something you want to be involved in will be of interest to others and start attracting the right people to help your cause.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Sharks. I’m fascinated by them and hate the bad press they get along with the slaughter of millions of sharks a year for the backward thinking of shark fin soup.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I used to spearfish with my dad most weekends in the summer in a small cove located near Torquay. One weekend we turned up and there was just no fish about. Not one. We came back week after week that summer and each time we didn’t see or catch any fish. It was this moment that made me think even in my lifetime in my small fishing spot the supply of fish is declining.
Thanks Tom, nothing like seeing for yourself the reduction of marine life to drive you on to try to preserve it.
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