© Brodie Thomas photo
Ben Andrews of Stephenville is stationed with DFO in Port aux Basques.
Two DFO fishery officers from the west coast got a pleasant surprise when they graduated from the training program in August.
Both Ben Andrews of Stephenville and Andrew Humber of Frenchman's Cove were stationed here in the province to work.
"I ticked off every location in Canada," said Mr. Andrews, 27. "It's a condition of your employment to serve anywhere in Canada, so I was willing to go anywhere in the country."
It just so happened that Mr. Andrews was placed in the Port aux Basques office.
"I was luckily enough to get close to home," Mr. Andrews said.
There were 19 graduates from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) officer training program, but only five job vacancies in the province. All of those were filled by Newfoundlanders.
Meanwhile, Mr. Humber figured he would fill any vacancies that came up until he eventually landed a position on the island. The 26-year-old started his position in Marystown last month.
"You're always hoping to get stationed in Newfoundland," said Mr. Humber, who applied to the program while living in Ottawa. "I was overjoyed to get a job (as an officer) and one that would bring me back home."
For the two men, becoming fishery officers was a long process.
Both had to apply several times to be admitted to the program, which does not advertise for new applicants each year. Mr. Andrews applied three times, and Mr. Humber applied twice.
The 17-week program, that started this past April, trains cadets to protect the country's fisheries and enforce legislation.
The first eight weeks were held at the Atlantic Police Academy in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and covered elements such as rules, regulations and laws, wildlife species identification and equipment training.
The following nine weeks were held at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police depot in Regina, Sask., where the trainees learned enforcement tactics, as DFO officers are permitted to carry a gun, baton and pepper spray, for safety purposes.
Before being selected to the program, both men worked with the DFO in contract positions to gain experience with the department.
Working as a fishery guardian and habitat technician on the island and in Labrador, confirmed for Humber how much he wanted to become a fishery officer.
As fishery guardians work seasonally with mainly recreation fisheries, Mr. Humber could not wait to have a hand in regulating commercial fisheries year-round.
Being outside and being employed to protect natural resources is a dream job, he said.
"Growing up, I developed an appreciation for the nature and wildlife. And, I also thought about a career in law enforcement," he said.
"This is the best of both worlds to do enforcement work that is about protecting the fisheries aspect of the environment that so important to everyone."
Mr. Andrews, too, said he could not think of a job that would make him happier.
"I love the outdoors, I love dealing with people," he said. "It's always been a goal of mine to serve the fisheries of the area, and protect the resources of today for our future generations."