What’s it all about then?
You’ll be responsible for the breeding and rearing of fish from fry to until they are ready for sale.
This means overseeing their feeding, keeping them disease free, and protecting them from predators.
The final stage of the process involves catching and harvesting the fish and preparing them for sale.
Alternatively you could be employed in a fish farm which specialises in developing breeding stock, then selling these juveniles to another farm along the supply chain.
Whilst the majority of fish farms concentrate on salmon and trout, some may specialise in shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops.
What might I be doing?
The work of a Fish Farm Manager can vary considerably from employer to employer but will likely include some or all of the following:
- Managing fish habitats over the year
- Ensuring the health and welfare of all stocks
- Calculating and implementing the stock feeding regime
- Maintaining equipment and storage cages
- Keeping abreast of legislative changes and scientific advances
- Planning and overseeing the harvesting process
- Ensuring that the farm maintains high environmental standards
- Supervising staff to work effectively and safely
- Planning breeding programmes and development schedules
- Ensuring all fish are prepared and packed properly for sale
- Keeping detailed and accurate records
What will be expected of me?
Obviously you will have a good knowledge of all the processes connected with the fish farming business, coupled with administrative and business skills; these will of course develop as you gain experience.
You’ll need to be physically fit, practically natured and unafraid of getting wet and dirty. As a manager you’ll be leading a team but there are also times when you’ll be working alone, doing office work.
Many fish farms are quite remotely located so a high degree of problem solving ability is needed as well as the ability to communicate effectively both with your team and also external suppliers and customers.
You’ll also need to be a patient scientifically minded sort of person who is happy working in poor weather and observant at all times.
What can I expect?
The type of work you’re going to be doing requires a 24/7 operation throughout the year, so your working hours will reflect this.
Fish farms are usually located in isolated areas so you will have to move to be close to your place of work.
Most fish farms in the United Kingdom are based in Scotland (although there are small numbers elsewhere) so you should bear this in mind when considering this type of work.
Of course if you work for a large multi-national company you may be able to travel the world as you become more experienced.
With experience you could also consider a career in research or as a consultant or advisor.
What about the pay?
This will vary with experience and qualifications with fish farm workers earning in the region of £13k to £15k per annum.
More senior employees could earn upwards of £21k.
Fish Farm Managers will earn up to £40k with more on offer if you become a senior manager in a large firm.
You may also be provided with suitable accommodation near to your job.
Please note that these figures are for your guidance only and you should always check for up to date figures before making any decisions.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
To start as a trainee manager in a fish farm you will very likely need a degree in a relevant subject such as aquaculture, fisheries management, or marine biology etc.
If you commence employment at a lower level and in a smaller scale operation you may find that a relevant degree is useful but not essential; practical skills and experience are considered more important.
Employers will ask for good 5 GCSE passes however (A*-C).
There are also a number of short courses you can take which will help with your employment at any level – an example is the Certificate/Diploma in Fisheries Management.
If you are Scottish based you could also consider a level 3 Apprenticeship.
Where would I get these qualifications?
Most of the universities offering Aquaculture related courses are either based in Scotland or in coastal locations – for instance Stirling and Bangor.
The Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling is the only one of its kind in the UK and one of very few in the world, so this would be a good starting point if you’re thinking about a career based on fish farming.
With regard to the Certificate and Diploma courses mentioned above, these can be taken via Correspondence courses offered by the Institute of Fisheries Management.
What about further training?
Training is often provided on the job, although many employers will expect entrants to have reasonable technical skills (acquired through work experience), as well as a sound academic grounding in the subject.
The training opportunities available often depend on the size of the fish farm.
You could consider undertaking a post graduate level qualification such as the MSc in Aquaculture: Sustainable Aquaculture offered by the University of Stirling.
This might also be a useful starting point if you’re coming into the industry with a non-specific degree.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, fish farming is the type of job where pre-entry experience is extremely important and you could gain this by looking for holiday employment – this will also show whether or not you are actually suited to this sort of work.
Also, please note that aquaculture is wider than purely fish farming and also includes the culture of species such as turtles, crocodiles and algae!