What is aquaculture?
Aquaculture refers to the farmed production of marine, brackish and freshwater organisms for food and other purposes, such as aquarium, pearl, and therapeutic and pharmaceutical products. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector globally with a high job demand for trained professionals.
Tropical regions of the world face unprecedented challenges due to population growth and an associated demand for high-quality seafood.
Population expansion places pressure on wild fisheries and emphasises the importance of, and opportunities for, an efficient and innovative aquaculture industry.
Aquaculture is a science and technology driven industry and brings together the fields of biological and physical sciences, research and development, engineering, technology and commerce to examine successful strategies for a thriving and sustainable seafood sector that is equally focused on future food security and environmental best practice.
To achieve this, aquaculture incorporates principles of biodiversity and biology, including species selection, hatchery breeding and rearing, and grow-out practices, alongside considerations such as genetic selection, diet optimisation, aquatic disease management and more.
Aquaculture propagation is one of the major areas of focus within the profession. Examine the requirements for breeding and rearing aquaculture species and how to apply traditional, advanced genomic selection and biotechnological approaches to increase productivity.
Feed and nutrition of aquatic organisms is another key area of aquaculture. The management of issues such as feeding strategies; live feeds versus artificial diets; and the nutritional requirements of fish, crustaceans and molluscs are all central to aquaculture practice.
What does an aquaculture specialist do?
Your work in aquaculture can be both incredibly practical and highly strategic.
As an aquaculture expert, your days may comprise a mix of managing animals and organisms, leading research projects, collecting field data, analysing samples and contributing to new discoveries.
Your roles in aquaculture will be varied and you will have the satisfaction of working within a continuous cycle of life and rejuvenation. You will have the opportunity to explore the benefits of a variety of roles and be supported in finding the niche that works best for you.
For example, aquaculture propagation may include the hands-on animal husbandry tasks of broodstock management, spawning induction and larval rearing. It may also include the design of innovative selective breeding programs to increase disease resistance or improve yields.
Working in aquaculture in the Tropics, you will also know how to identify and deal with a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases specific to tropical aquatic animals. These tasks may involve everything from investigating clinical signs in the field, to collecting samples, conducting laboratory diagnoses and developing biosecurity management plans.
You will have the natural inclinations of a scientist, and be familiar with evolutionary and biological processes, yet you will be able to think broadly as you seek to nurture the long-term viability and profitability of the Australian aquaculture industry.
Collaboration will be key, and institutions such as the JCU Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture play a leading role in improving sustainable operations throughout the region.
The Centre models the multidisciplinary approach that will be essential for all aquaculture professionals to support the future sustainability, security and environmental performance of commercial fisheries. Working in centres such as these, you will develop a focus on the aquatic and aquaculture systems that produce food, as well as the industries and communities that use them.
What jobs are there in aquaculture?
From field-based roles to scientific research positions, aquaculture jobs come in all shapes and sizes.
You may also find work all around the world, as both tropical and temperate climates have aquaculture industries. You may choose to specialise in different types of aquaculture, or different issues within the industry. You can also specialise in one of the many different species that are cultured, including barramundi, tropical rock lobster, and macroalgae.
With a Bachelor of Science majoring in Aquaculture Science and Technology from JCU, you may find yourself working in roles that include:
- Farm manager
- Hatchery manager
- Environmental officer
- Aquatic animal health officer
- Biosecurity officer
- Operational manager
- Research technician
- Farm technician
- Project manager
- Policy and planning officer
- System design manager.
Why study Aquaculture Science and Technology at JCU?
When you study Aquaculture at JCU, you will learn from lecturers who are world leaders in tropical aquaculture research and development. You will also have access to the JCU Marine and Aquaculture Research Facility, which is the largest research aquarium facility in an Australian university, with eight large recirculating marine water systems and 21 indoor temperature-controlled research labs.
Throughout the JCU Bachelor of Science, majoring in Aquaculture Science and Technology, you will explore the scientific and practical applications of breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments.
JCU aquaculture subjects integrate laboratory and field-based learning. You will have the opportunity to maintain your own aquaculture organisms (fish or crustaceans, depending on availability) and develop practical animal husbandry skills, alongside essential report writing and other employability skills.
While JCU includes a focus on tropical species, the principles and practical skills you gain will be applicable to the aquaculture industry in other regions. JCU aquaculture researchers cultivate strong links to industry, providing a sound professional network when you graduate. All aquaculture course coordinators and lecturers have considerable experience across various sectors of the aquaculture industry.
High-achieving students can take their aquaculture and research further with an Honours or Master’s degree. Devise, research and propose solutions to a core challenge within your field of study. The personal research project and academic connections you make will prepare you for Higher Degree Research opportunities.