Working as a Government Officer on South Georgia | Polarjournal
South Georgia – certainly a perfect place to work for some of us. Photo: Julia Hager

The Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced a vacancy for a Government Officer, fixed term position for 40 months with a start date of September 2023.

“This is a truly unique and exciting opportunity” states the job posting. That’s something you can really presume. Not only because of the exceptionally diverse tasks one takes on as a government officer, but of course especially because of the extraordinary locations on South Georgia and in Stanley on the Falkland Islands. Where else can you wake up with king penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals outside your window?

King penguins, southern fur seals and southern elephant seals feel at home again near the former Grytviken whaling station. Photo: Julia Hager

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are located 1,450 kilometers southeast of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and are home to large populations of penguins, other seabirds, and seals. The waters around the islands are important feeding grounds for them and numerous other marine predators. The protection of native flora and fauna and habitats is thus of particular priority.

Enthusiasm and passion for protecting the environment are therefore among the most important qualities to have as a government officer on South Georgia. In addition to other soft skills, a high degree of adaptability and flexibility with regard to the tasks is also required.

“This is an exciting time to join GSGSSI as we embark on a 5-year strategy delivering on a range of stretching goals that continue to place us amongst the best in the world for balancing environmental protection with precautionary use.”

Job advertisement GSGSSI

Primarily, as a Government Officer, one is responsible for managing the government administration at King Edward Point on South Georgia and acts as the principal point of contact for all interactions with GSGSSI (Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands). Duties throughout the year include preparing various reports, training new staff members, being on call 24 hours a day for emergencies, managing the harbour, environmental protection, and serving as registrar and deputy coroner when necessary.

King Edward Point is the Government Officer’s primary deployment site. Photo: Julia Hager

In addition, other tasks are added depending on the season. During the summer months, this mainly means being the principal contact for all ships and, for example, informing the expedition leaders of tourist ships about the range of activities on offer in Grytviken. In addition, the Government Officer oversees landings to ensure compliance with regulations.

In winter, the focus is on managing daily fishing activities. This includes, for example, processing catch data and conducting inspections of the licensed fishing fleet at sea.

Given the variety and diversity of tasks, the workday is far from a regular “9 to 5” job. Laura Sinclair Willis, Chief Executive Officer of GSGSSI, therefore writes in the “Candidate Pack”: “[…] taking on-Island holidays and leave during quiet periods is encouraged to even out the number of hours worked overall.” The impressive scenery as well as the fascinating and at times entertaining wildlife will surely make you forget overtime quickly.

Grytviken is framed by majestic scenery that compensates for many overtime hours. Photo: Julia Hager

Finally, the job posting states, “The range of responsibilities means there is a focus on the skills you can bring, rather than specific expertise in any given area.”

The contract with GSGSSI will begin in September 2023 and run for 40 months, with the successful candidate spending six months in South Georgia, one month working in Stanley in the Falkland Islands, and three months paid leave in a 10-month rotation. The salary is 34,000 British pounds per year plus all accommodation and subsistence included when deployed, plus travel from the UK to South Georgia. The application deadline is May 1, 2023.

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

Link to job posting:

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