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Darryl Calder

Vessel Manager


“One day you could be dealing with a boat in Samoa, the next you could be organising the rescue of an injured crew member off a fishing boat – you never quite know how a day is going to turn out.”

Darryl Calder is the vessel manager of a fleet of five fishing boats operating out of Nelson. His job is to make sure the boats are properly crewed and equipped, and also to ensure the fleet complies with Ministry of Fisheries regulations on quotas, and the Fisheries Act. “There’s a lot of risk in running fishing vessels, you've got to know them all and make sure your vessels adhere to the rules. If you break the law, you can lose the ship.”

The deep-water fishing vessels Darryl is in charge of are crewed by between 20 and 36 people. Four boats fish in the waters around the South Island and another operates in the Western Pacific.

The boats can be out at sea for up to 80 days, catching hoki, orange roughy and tuna, often in trying conditions. Darryl is in regular contact with the boats' crews and when something goes wrong onboard a vessel, he is the first on shore to know about it.

“My job is to be the first point of contact with the vessels. In a rescue I would co-ordinate everything from shore and make sure things run smoothly.”

Though Darryl’s job revolves around what's happening out at sea, he keeps his own feet planted firmly on land. "I've never been to sea and have no intention of going."

And unlike many other vessel managers, Darryl has no previous experience working in the fishing industry. His previous job was as an overseer of boning crews at a freezing works. While both jobs involve co-ordinating staff and many of the skills were transferable, starting out as a vessel manager was a big learning curve.

“A lot of things crossed over but a lot of things I had to ad-lib and just see what happened. It's about growing with the job. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake – and carry on.”