Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is an Aquaculture Technician?

Also known as "Fish Farmers" or "Fish Farm Workers", Aquaculture Technicians are the front line and the core workers responsible for maintaining fish farms and in ensuring proper husbandry of the farms livestock.

Technicians raise and harvest fish, shellfish, and plants in fresh or salt water. The fish and plant life they grow are sold for food or used to replenish wildlife stocks for recreational or commercial fishing.

Aquaculture workers are the first to see and respond to any problems with production. They are normally responsible for feeding the stock and calculating how much food is needed. Another key task is to maintain optimal water quality through monitoring and control. A fish farmer at times will need to check the stock for stress, health and disease and take preventive or remedial action when necessary. They also collect and record growth and production data and are involved in the harvesting of market sized fish and the stocking of young.

In a land based “tank farm” technicians may be required to install, operate, maintain and clean pumps, filters and other equipment. They will need to clean - maintain tanks and “raceways” used to hold and grow the fish. Farm technicians will undertake basic record keeping and reporting in both written and verbal formats. Workers may also be required to clean and prepare the fish for market.

Aquaculture technicians may be required to work both indoors and outside. The work outdoors may be in all kinds of weather. The tasks "chores" can be physically demanding and include some lifting and carrying.

The Aquaculture technician must be ready to do a variety of work tasks. They are usually given a good deal of responsibility and much of the time could be working unsupervised. Good observational skills and plenty of patience are required.

Aquaculture is more than a job; like land farming, it’s a way of life. Technicians often work seven days a week, with time off after. Shift work is common, including weekends and holidays. Aquaculture workers are employed by private aquaculture operations, government fish hatcheries and experimental aquatic farms.

In the course of their career, the right person can advance and become manager or owner of an aquaculture operation, supervising other technicians and operations. To become a manager or owner, good administrative skills, practical experience, and a high level of technical understanding are required and they must know how to deal with people. A technician seeking self-employment also needs to be a good business planner and long term “thinker”, since it may take two to three years before the stock they raise is sold.

Many technicians (with the desire) have gone on to become self-employed, owning and operate their own aquaculture farms, after the gaining experience and practical knowledge required and after evaluating the risks and commitments involved in owning a business.

Related Links and articles:
" Overview of an Aquaculture Technician Training Program "
"Aquaculture Industry Jobs and Employment"

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