This week we’re with Vivienne Evans, the Project Coordinator at Blue Marine Foundation in the Maldives.
Vivienne gives us some excellent advice and suggestions on improving your career prospects in marine conservation. Her top tip is to think outside the box and to keep up to date with current affairs, which impact marine conservation globally.
Name: Vivienne Evans
Job Title: Project Coordinator
Organisation: Blue Marine Foundation
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I did an MSc in ‘Marine Environmental Management’ at the University of York which I would highly recommend to anyone wishing to enter the field. The course provides you with a great knowledge foundation and the lecturers are well connected and go out of their way to help you gain practical experience in the areas you are interested in. There’s also a heavily discounted field trip to the Maldives! I always try to be a vocal advocate for conservation of the marine environment. I like coming up with my own ideas and projects outside of my career to help me do this. During my masters course I created and developed an unconventional anti-microbead campaign called #ditchthosebeads for my dissertation which was a lot of fun and very successful. I’m also now working on a new project which I hope to launch later this year.
- How did you land your current job/position?
I did my masters research project with BLUE in the Maldives and following on from that I was taken on as Project Coordinator for the Grouper Fishery and Conservation Project.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I love talking to people about my work and the field of marine science and using media and film as a communication tool to support this. I’m still shocked by how few people recognise the importance and value of the marine environment. The challenge of communicating what’s going on in our oceans and engaging people who have no idea about it is something I find extremely fulfilling.
I have been extremely fortunate to land a position in which I get to travel a lot and work with people of other cultures which is something I really enjoy. Consequently, I get to do a mix of office and field based work which always keeps things interesting, even if it has meant I’ve spent many hours knee deep in grouper gonads!
Working at BLUE is also a privilege, the team are so driven and it’s an inspiring environment to work in. There’s always so much going on.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
In the Maldives there are very few opportunities for aspiring environmentalists. In the space of a year, we took on five interns from Maldives National University who were studying BSc Environmental Management. They joined us for various field work activities. None of them knew about the commercial grouper fishery in the Maldives before they started or had any experience working with fishermen or dissecting fish. We provided them with practical experience in the field which has helped them to progress in their careers. Since the internships, those who graduated have gone onto jobs in the Ministry of Environment and current students have been accepted for other internships with NGOs and assisted with other work in the field.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It’s important to understand who is who wherever you’re working in the world. If you happen to move abroad make sure you really understand how things work in that country, as it can be very different to what you’re used to!
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Photography and videography are hugely advantageous because of how mediacentric our society has become. Being able to take good photos and videos is a great way of communicating what you are doing and gaining public interest for your work.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Think outside of the box, create your own projects, be an ocean ambassador and be informed. Keep up to date with current affairs, conservation is hugely political.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
That’s near impossible to answer! I love all marine life but I do have a soft spot for the smaller and stranger creatures on the reefs that don’t get as much attention as dolphins and turtles. If you spot them, it’s so rewarding. Can’t forget my groupers as well!
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I remember diving at Maavah Channel with my colleague Shaha during one of our grouper surveys. The channel was totally alive with fish like jacks, barracudas, trevallies and red snapper. The schools were so vast and dense I could barely see Shaha even when she was two metres in front of me. As we swam along the channel we saw over thirty grey reef sharks, black tips, white tips and eighteen or so eagle rays pass by us. At the end of the dive we saw an oceanic manta ray pass by. It was truly magical.
Thank you Vivienne for this incredible insight into the work BLUE is currently undertaking in the Maldives and for your inspirational words for future marine conservationists. BLUE are currently advertising for a Coordinator to join as part of a team responsible for developing and managing BLUE’s Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve and other projects in the South West of England, click here to find out more!
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