An Interview with WiseOceans… Arjan Berkhuysen from the World Fish Migration Foundation

This week with World Fish Migration Day on 21st April 2018, we’re with Arjan Berkhuysen, Managing Director at World Fish Migration Foundation to help raise awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish.

His advice is to do what you believe in and follow your heart and instincts when going after your dream career.

Name: Arjan Berkhuysen

Job Title: Managing Director

Organisation: World Fish Migration Foundation

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

I graduated in business administration and started my career in a large shipping company. After 8 years I saw that we were depleting our earth and I wanted to do something about that. I stopped with my job and studied for a Masters in Environmental Management. I started working for different non profit organisations and when I was working as director from the Waddenvereniging, a NGO protecting the Waddensea, I discovered how we can work on better fishstocks by improving the migration routes of fish. I started a project making a large fish passage in the Afsluitdijk, one of the main dams in the Netherlands, the fish migration river. This innovative project restores the connection with the salt water from the Northsea and the freshwater from the other side of the dam, without salt water coming into the freshwater lake. Doing this project together with anglers, fishermen and other nature enthusiasts showed to be so much fun that I decided to work on that more, even on international level. 

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

I do what I believe in and follow my heart when planning next career goals. 

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

I like very much working together with other people who do this kind of work out of passion. They believe in a better world, and are willing to make the best out of that. Getting results with a mixed group of people out of passion is fantastic.

  • Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

Yes, we set targets for years ahead and after a while most of them are met. It is important to realise that nature-restoration projects take years though. You have to set your targets right. 

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

That picking your focus and organising to realise this focus asks time and you should take that time. 

  • Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

I learned to trust on following my ‘sense’, feeling on issues. When I started my career I thought that rational thinking was the only basis for good work.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Always follow your dream and your main interest. 

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

I like dolphins, because they let people live under water and connect with marine life. I’m also interested in sturgeons, because they are living fossils and there are so many interesting stories about these creatures.  

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

When I was with people on a small boat in the mist, lost on the Waddensea. There was only sea around us and ourselves. I felt very connected to earth, and the sea. A similar feeling that I have when I’m on top of a mountain. Makes you feel very alive. 


Thank you Arjan, we agree that you always need to follow your dream, stay determined and you will achieve your dream career! Find out more about World Fish Migration Day and see how you can support this important campaign.

Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly job alert emails and keep an eye on our Wise Work pages so you don’t miss your dream opportunity in more marine conservation.