Joshua K DeMello

Josh DeMello
Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
Fishery Analyst
High School Attended
Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, HI
College Attended
University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

Job Description:

I coordinate the Precious Corals and Crustaceans Fishery Management Plans for the Council, meaning I hold meetings and prepare amendments to the plans and whatever else is necessary to continue the sustainability of each fishery.

The fishery management plans provide the rules and regulations for a fishery, basically the law for fishing in the Western Pacific portion of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (generally 3-200 nm).

I also work on other issues such as aquaculture and recreational fishing and put together reports on the fisheries by analyzing data and researching the fishery.

Interest in Field:

I never really knew what I wanted to do, but I figured that if I had to work, it would be with something I like to do, which has always been ocean activities. As far as fisheries are concerned, I practically knew nothing before working for the Council. I don’t know if I this is what I want to do forever, but I do enjoy it.

How did you get there?

The first step for me, was to decide on what I wanted to study in school. With that, I transferred from UH Mānoa to UH Hilo specifically for the Marine Sciences Program.

While in school, I developed the tools I needed to succeed (computers, science, writing, working in an office). Its not just going to class, but actually having the will to learn and succeed that helped me. This happened because I was taking classes on subjects I actually wanted to learn about.

The next step was to get some experience through an internship program. I got the experience I was searching for through the UH-Hawaiian Internship Program (UH-HIP). From my second internship with UH-HIP, I demonstrated the ability to my host agency and was offered a position.

Necessary Qualifications:

I don’t think there are key qualifications in the sense of “need a Masters degree, or certifications,” but more an interest and desire to do a good job. You need to work hard, be a quick study, and have office and interpersonal skills. You should be able to use a computer (word processing, email, some spreadsheets) and be able to write well, but there are other staff members that are willing and able to assist when necessary.

To me, the key qualification is that you have the desire and willingness to help preserve and promote sustainable fishing in Hawaii and the Western Pacific.

Rewards of Work:

I think it’s a cliché, but the real reward is a “job well done.” There are other things, like the ability to travel to different parts of the Pacific, across the Nation, and sometimes even the world. I’ve been on TV, wrote scientific papers that are quoted in other papers, and attended workshops and conferences. I’ve even got to meet some of the scientists whose papers and books were the topic of lecture in college. The real reward for me is being treated as a knowledgeable individual, someone who can contribute to the meeting/workshop/discussion. That comes from doing your job and doing it well.

Relevant Work Experience:

  • Newspaper Sales
  • Lifeguard at a private school
  • Driving range attendant / golf course starter
  • Peer Assistant
  • Phone Book Delivery
  • Three different internships
  • Fishery Analyst

As you can see, there really isn’t too much of a theme going on here and practically none of the jobs are relevant to my current position. However, working in practically different fields of work has provided me with a lot of different experiences that have contributed to my current position. For instance, many of the jobs provided basic work experience like how to interact with bosses and coworkers. Other jobs provided me with incentive to work harder as not to ever get into that line of work again. And yet my internships provided me with experience and contacts that have helped me in moving in the direction I am currently heading.

Typical Day:

My day is not so exciting. I get up and get into the office by 8:00 am. I check emails and voicemails. I look at my calendar to see if there are any deadlines or meetings. I usually have a list of things “to do” from a staff meeting so I try to get as much done on the list as possible. Most of the time, though, there is something that needs to get done ASAP and someone will come to my office and ask me to work on this or that. While working on tasks, its important for me to bounce ideas off of my coworkers to get some input. Sometimes a meeting will take the majority of the day and I will write up a summary for those that couldn’t attend. I end the day at 5:00 pm on most days, unless there is a lot of work that needs to be done or I am still in a meeting, which keeps me beyond 5:00.

Most days I am either responding to inquiries, writing reports, looking at data, or working on administrative tasks. Recently, I have been working on amendment documents that would provide new regulations to the black coral fishery. I also attend meetings, provide presentations, or participate in conference calls on any given day.

Words of Wisdom :

You wish you knew...:

Know your field of interest. I just wanted to do something in marine science. Its such a broad subject that I couldn’t even know what kind of jobs there were. I studied mostly marine biology and oceanography in college and didn’t even know what fisheries were. Its never too late to learn, but having a head start helps out for sure.

You wish you were told...:

Get an idea of what your office does and where you fit into the organizational structure. If you don’t know what the end goal is, its very hard to understand.

Be willing to say no once in awhile. Its fine to say yes to some extra tasks or responsibilities, but you have to know when to say when. If you are willing to take on tasks without complaint, people catch on to this and will give you more and more to do. Im not saying complain about it, but know your limit so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

On that note, also be willing to ask questions and ask for help. If you don’t know what something means, or what someone is trying to say, ask for a clarification. They say there is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people for not asking questions. Also ask for help when you feel that you can’t get something done or need someone’s assistance in getting something completed. Know your sources of help and thank them often.

Don’t get involved in office politics. At the end of the day, you’re going home to your own business and your own family. Keep your work and life separate as much as possible.

Final Comments / Advice:

Expose yourself to new ideas and surroundings in your chosen field. Find out what your field has to offer and get a sampling of it. Learn as much as you can to make sure you’re going into the field you’ll be happy in.

Internships are a great way to get experience and start networking. I have seen my former internship hosts on numerous occasions and have even worked with some of them. Besides, doing a good job in an internship could lead to a position in their organization.

Be organized. Its hard to do anything if you don’t know where things are or what goes where. That goes for your work and your life.

Work hard. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, do the best job you can do. When your boss sees you working hard, they appreciate it. When your professors see you working hard, they appreciate it.

Take pride in your work. Whatever you do, you’re leaving your legacy. Your work is a reflection on you, your family, and your friends.

Do what you love. Work is work is work, but if its something you love or at least like, it makes it that much more tolerable.

Be willing to take chances. This can be from going into debt to afford a research experience to speaking out against something you think is wrong. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.

Lastly, when working on something, look at the whole picture. Analyze the pros and cons of the situation and take into account everything and everyone that is affected by it. Particularly in the environmental field, we need to know there are other dynamics involved besides just the environment. There are the social, economic, and cultural impacts that could outweigh the environmental in some cases. Look at the broader picture, not just the narrow one.