Aquaculture, or the controlled farming of aquatic species for human use, is a rapidly growing field with multiple opportunities for the aspiring student. The different types of aquaculture training generally include courses of study in a range of disciplines within the industry, including aquaculture technician, fish biologist, aquaculture engineer, fish farm or hatchery manager, fish harvester, and fish and seafood processor. While some positions, such as fish biologist or aquaculture engineer, may require a university degree, there are many other positions available in this field that offer on-the-job training or, at most, would require a short course in the fundamentals of aquaculture. Such aquaculture training courses are available at many universities, community colleges, and stand-alone training facilities worldwide.
Generally understood to mean the farming of fish, shrimp, shellfish, seaweed, and other aquatic edibles for direct human consumption, aquaculture techniques are also used to replenish wild fish populations, stock sport-fishing facilities, supply aquarium markets with exotic breeds, and even grow pharmaceuticals. Many aquaculture training programs include a mix of classroom and practical, hands-on instruction. The classroom portion of the program generally covers the basics of fish and shellfish biology, aquatic ecosystems management, and the feeding and nutritional requirements of the different species.
Other training topics may include disease control and safety issues as well as the mechanics of modern aqua farming practices. Aquaculture training in farming may include classes in design, maintenance, and troubleshooting of facilities as well as the practical aspects of record keeping and operational planning. Other areas of training relevant to the field of aquaculture may include business management, marketing, supply forecasting, and computer skills as well.
In the practical application portion of the course, students will apply what they have learned in the classroom in an actual, working aquaculture facility. Fish hatcheries, fish and shellfish farms, or university aquaculture research centers are common facilities that offer this type of hands-on aquaculture training. Students will learn the physical side of the industry, with training in the daily aspects of managing a modern aqua farm. Tasks may include fish handling and harvesting techniques, feeding, cleaning and filtration needs, disease prevention, farm equipment use, care, and repair, and safety issues.
Some aquaculture training programs include field work in marine environments, such as the Florida Keys in the United States. Students looking for this type of training usually must apply for a research internship at a university with a strong aquaculture program. Many schools also offer summer camps that can expose a young student to the discipline and give them practical experience in the field to help guide further training plans.