Supporting professional development

We value and support the continuing professional development of all our staff and encourage our colleagues to develop to their full potential within their chosen careers.

This week, Emma Wright shares her experience of continuing professional development within her specialist field of fisheries and hydroecology – and what was involved in completing the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) Certificate Course.

I’m part of  JBA’s Hydro-ecology team, in which I provide both fisheries and geomorphology support. My role involves varied project work:

  • Fish pass feasibility and design
  • Hydroecological impact assessment
  • Water Framework Directive Assessments
  • Catchment and reach scale river restoration.

As part of my on-going development, I decided at the beginning of 2020 to take part in the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) Certificate Course, to further develop my understanding of fisheries and hydroecology.

What did the course involve?

The course is a year in length with two series of exams and units ranging from freshwater and fish biology to fishery law. Throughout, the topics have allowed me to expand my knowledge not only of fish in river environments but the processes that occur within a fish farm, to allow for stocking for many of the rivers and lakes throughout the UK.

Application

The course covers a wide range of topics, many of which apply to my role within the team. For example, the water quality unit discussed how increased suspended solids impacts on aquatic life. I’m often involved in designing schemes which require in-channel working (e.g. river restoration, fish passage) and the assessment of other in-channel works (e.g flood defences, scour protection). In each case, the temporary works typically include measures to control fine sediment being transported downstream to prevent siltation and smothering of eggs and habitats, which can lead to reduced survival rates. The IFM Certificate broadened my thinking into the additional risk suspended solids have both directly and indirectly on adult fish, ranging from abrasion of the epidermis (skin), blocking gills reducing their ability take in dissolved oxygen from the water, to causing stresses that impact fertility from the size, quantity and quality of eggs and a lower survival rate of offspring from stressed fish.

The fish biology unit went into detail about fish anatomy and how different species morphology is a reflection on the environment they survive in and their feeding habitats. For example, fish within the littoral zone (the area close to shore in rivers, lakes and seas), exhibit a blunt snout, have a long upper jaw and are deep-bodied. This is because in the littoral zone is contains vegetation, in which littoral fish will consume prey that is either attached to the vegetation or from bed sediments. Whilst in the pelagic zone (open water) fish will have equal sized jaws with a slender body and a pointed snout, as they feed in the open water column on plankton. This information will aid hydro-ecological surveys of watercourses as it provides a practical framework for which species are likely to be found in different watercourses alongside any survey information.

I would recommend anyone who is interested in fisheries to consider completing the IFM course as it provides a great background of all things fishery related.

Want to know more?

You can find out more about the work of our Fisheries team on our webpage Fisheries | JBA Consulting Environmental Services

For more information about the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) Certificate Course, visit their website: IFM training – Institute of Fisheries Management



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