Aquaculture Production Manager

Aquaculture production managers are responsible for overseeing the production and operations of fish and seafood farms. They work closely with farm staff, veterinarians, and other specialists to ensure that fish and seafood are produced in a sustainable and efficient manner. Primary responsibilities include managing fish and seafood growth, harvest and processing. They require strong management and leadership skills as well as a deep understanding of fish and seafood farming practices, regulations and markets.

At a Glance

As an aquaculture production manager, my days are typically filled with administrative tasks and hands-on work at the farm. I start my day by reviewing production records from the previous day, which helps me keep track of fish growth rates, feed consumption, and mortality rates. I also use this time to check the water quality parameters, such as temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels, to ensure the fish are healthy and thriving.

Once I'm up to date on production, I spend the rest of my day managing the staff and farm operations. This could include coordinating with the incubator to ensure a steady supply of fish, supervising staff as they carry out tasks like feeding, netting, and grading fish, and performing routine maintenance tasks on equipment and facilities. I also conduct weekly or monthly inventory checks to ensure we have adequate feed, medication, and other essentials.

One of my main focuses as an aquaculture production manager is promoting sustainability in our operations. I work closely with staff to ensure we follow best practices regarding feed and medication use and water and waste management. I also ensure that we comply with all environmental regulations and actively seek out new ways to minimize our environmental impact.

Overall, I find my work as an aquaculture production manager incredibly rewarding. Seeing the fish grow and thrive under our care is impressive, and I feel proud to contribute to a sustainable and ethical food supply.

Job Duties

Job duties can vary from one position to the next, but in general, aquaculture production managers are involved in the following activities:

  • Manage and direct a team of aquaculture technicians
  • Conduct aquaculture operations at the highest standard possible for the prevention of marine pollution
  • Ensure regulatory compliance
  • Oversee all aspects of producing juvenile aquatic populations to support the production of healthy fish suitable for human consumption
  • Aquatic stock production management
  • Ensure aquatic populations have a consistent and controlled environment to allow for the optimal production of aquatic life
  • Establish and follow health and maintenance programs for aquatic populations to identify disease, abnormalities, and poor production growth

Work Environment

Often working out of remote settings, aquaculture production managers require hands-on experience in an aquacultural setting to be relied upon in supporting their team directly. The size of the aquacultural operation will partially determine the managerial reach. In larger operations, multiple managerial positions may help train and supervise, specializing in specific operational functions such as hatcheries, broodstock, or rearing. Positions on an aquacultural farm can be isolating at times, with remote workstations and long hours.

The office:

  • Doing paperwork and analyzing data for reporting

The field:

  • Inspecting and testing crops and soils and problem-solving with producers
  • Making presentations to farmers, agriculture businesses, etc., and participating in field tours and training sessions
  • Responding to requests from clients

Where to Work

Most aquaculture production managers work at public or private fish hatcheries. There are several places where aquaculture production managers can find employment. They include:

  • Commercial fish farms and feed producers
  • Colleges, universities, and research institutes
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms
  • Marine science institutions and aquariums
  • Self-employed consultant


Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills

Education

If you are considering a career as an aquaculture production manager, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • English

If you are considering a career as an aquaculture production manager, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Aquaculture
  • Marine biology
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic biology
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Fisheries and biology

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an aquaculture production manager is a college technical diploma.

Certification is not mandatory in order to work as an aquaculture production manager, though many practitioners choose to belong to organizations such as the Aquaculture Association of Canada.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.

Skills

Technical Skills

  • Biology
  • Aquaculture
  • Budgeting and cost management
  • Stakeholder relations management
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Operations
  • Fish care, cultivation, and harvesting

Personal and Professional Skills 

  • Interpersonal communications
  • Self-motivation
  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Attention to detail
  • Management
  • Verbal communication skills

Education and Skills

Matt Kennedy

My interest in biology started during my childhood when I spent many summers sailing and beachcombing with my grandparents on Vancouver Island. The people-focused service aspect attracted me to environmental consulting. I wanted to do something that was scientific but also had an applied aspect. One of the best pieces of advice I had as a junior professional working at a consulting firm was to market my skills inside rather than outside the company.

In this way, project managers in the office knew what I was capable of and I found myself being included on more and more interesting and challenging projects. Organizations that hire biologists include government, engineering and industrial firms, research institutions and environmental non-government organizations. These jobs can be found in major urban centers, smaller centers and remote industrial sites. In my seven years of experience since graduate school, I have worked at various levels of seniority both as a field biologist and doing office-based data analysis and report writing.

One of the more interesting projects I have been involved with, the Environmental Baseline Project and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Diavik Diamonds Mine in the Northwest Territories, came immediately after graduate school. This diverse, challenging environmental impact assessment was my first involvement in applied environmental work in a consulting setting. Exposure to this project (and others like it) helped me advance rapidly at the start of my career and to set the pace for future projects. To keep pace with regulatory changes and technical issues I use a wide range of sources including libraries, on-line resources and discussion with colleagues. While I may not always have the answer immediately, I typically know where to find it.

My network of professional contacts is the best resource I have for current information and assistance with difficult problems. I am a member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, Calgary Mineral Exploration Group, NWT Chamber of Mines and I attend annual conferences arranged by these groups. My professional training also includes Standard First Aid / CPR, Wilderness First Aid, Electrofishing and Boat Safety. I have also received training in project management techniques and effective client service. The environmental sector is a growing discipline. There is ample opportunity for advancement, salary increase and shareholder status depending on the positions that are available.

There is also an increasing demand for biological services as environmental professionals are more frequently asked to participate in regulatory hearings and legal proceedings. This demand is largely driven by a growing public awareness of environmental issues. The future will bring more challenging technical problems that require people with diverse skills to solve them. Having the expertise to do this kind of work gives you a sense of satisfaction in being part of the solution. I would encourage people to pursue a focused education with a technical emphasis in an area of their choice. Supplement this with a broad range of life experiences - field courses in the summer can be a great experience.

If you find it difficult breaking into this field, be persistent and emphasize your technical skills. Also, be sure to maintain a positive attitude and enthusiasm about all opportunities. Often what is most important is to get started working in the environmental sector. Keep in mind that employers in this area are looking for talented, creative-thinking people who can help them provide solutions to technical problems.

My day might include travel to a remote wilderness location, use of field sampling techniques and interaction with local people or it could be a day in my office conversing with clients, regulatory agencies, and project staff about technical issues, budgets and schedules. Many of the 40 to 50 hours I work each week involve communicating and problem-solving with other professionals such as chemists, geologists, engineers or other types of biologists. I am fortunate to have input into where and what projects I want to work on.

The culture of the organization I work for promotes learning and professional growth. I contribute by making sure projects are on time, on budget and satisfy my client and my own professional standards. As I gain experience, I will continue to look for larger, more challenging projects to get involved with. Our office is currently building a team of professionals who can deliver high-quality service in the natural sciences and environmental assessment areas. Our goal is to become environmental professionals who are well-known and respected for high-quality work and effective service to our clients.

Your Impact

Aquaculture production managers play a crucial role in promoting sustainable fish and seafood production practices. They are responsible for managing farm operations and ensuring that fish and seafood are produced to minimize their impact on the environment.

Aquaculture production managers ensure that water quality parameters are within acceptable limits and that fish health and nutrition are optimized to reduce disease and mortality risks. By monitoring fish feeding, growth, and mortality rates, they can adjust feeding rates and schedules to reduce waste and minimize environmental impact. They also ensure that staff follow standard operating procedures and comply with regulations and industry standards to prevent accidental spills or leaks of pollutants.

Aquaculture production managers support sustainable practices by purchasing feed from sustainable sources, investing in equipment that minimizes energy use, and using eco-friendly cleaning products. They create and maintain production records and reports to track environmental impact and compliance with regulations and industry standards. By ordering and managing inventory of farm supplies, including feed and equipment, they can ensure that products are sourced sustainably.

Aquaculture production managers develop and implement farm management plans that promote sustainable fish and seafood production practices. They conduct research and development activities to improve fish growth and health, as well as farm efficiency and profitability. They can implement innovative solutions that minimize environmental impact by keeping up to date with new technologies and advances in fish and seafood farming practices. They establish and maintain relationships with regulatory agencies, industry associations, and other stakeholders in the aquaculture industry to stay informed about the latest sustainability initiatives.

Overall, aquaculture production managers relate their responsibilities to sustainability by balancing the need for profitable and efficient farm operations with the need to minimize environmental impact. By implementing sustainable practices in their daily, monthly, and long-term responsibilities, they ensure that fish and seafood are produced in a responsible and environmentally conscious manner.

Occupational Classification

Aquaculture production managers are classified in the following occupational grouping:

NOC Code: 80022 – Managers in aquaculture

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

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