Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions. Though there are some types of aquaculture like Algaculture which is the cultivation of kelp or Seaweed and other Algae, the growing of Cultured Pearls, the primary form of aquaculture is Fish Farming or Pisciculture (the Latin word piscis means fish). Fish farming or Aquaculture of this kind is end directed, that is, fishes are grown or cultivated for human consumption or for industrial and medicinal purposes.
Aquaculture has been practised since ancient times. In ancient China (circa 2500 BC), fishes were held in artificial tanks after the floods. Aquaculture however expanded and became a full fledged industry only in the 20th century.
Fishes provide an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids. In many developing countries with considerable water bodies or coasts, aquaculture is greatly encouraged in an effort to prevent malnutrition among the people.
India is surrounded by water bodies on multiple sides and there are numerous water bodies within the mainland. There is an approximately 7,500 km coastline and longer inland water channels. The fishing industry is therefore a rapidly increasing and important industry and aquaculture is a viable career option.
Nature of Work
Those involved in Aquaculture have to develop fish farms and work in fish research centres. They also need to research and gather information about water bodies and coastal areas. Fish farmers also need to find out and prevent water pollution and engage in fish preservation. Aquaculture involves the study of methods of fish cultivation and harvesting, freezing and canning in both coastal as well as inland factories. Then there is the necessity of figuring out ways of marketing, both within and outside the country, the transportation and delivery of fishes.
Being involved in Aquaculture does not require a special kind of personality as such but one must be prepared to handle fishes and dissect them, travel on the water and be able to swim. Therefore, it is a major setback if one cannot physically handle fishes or stand the smell of fishes. Being sea sick is also a problem for certain kinds of job in the aquaculture industry. An interest in marine or aqua life is an added advantage. Being able to swim is not only an advantage, but also quite necessary.
One can pursue a bachelor's degree in Fish Farming (B.Sc. in Fishery Sciences) or a bachelor's degree in Zoology (B.Sc. in Zoology). Either of these two bachelor's degrees paves the way for a further master's degree in Fishery Sciences. One can also study for a master's degree in Mariculture (M.Sc. in Mariculture). One can also study for a Ph.D. after getting a master's degree.
Diploma courses are also offered by several institutes. These diploma courses can be of 1 to 3 years. Small certificate courses are also offered by some academic institutions.
Other short term courses are also offered by some institutes for a career in aquaculture. These short term courses can sometimes be a concentrated period of study for 30 days.
Colleges, Institutions and Universities
Some colleges which offer a bachelor's degree in Fishery Sciences are:
- College of Fisheries Roha, Nagaon - 782103, Assam
- Agriculture University, Jorhat- 785 013, Assam
- College of Fisheries, Pusa Rajendra, Bihar
- Agriculture University, Sabour - 813 210, Bihar
- College of Fisheries, Vellanikkara - 680654, Trichur (Kerala)
Institutes offering master's courses in fishery sciences
- Department of Industrial Fisheries, Cochin University Kochi, Kerala - 682 022, India
Institutes offering master's courses in mariculture
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Cochin, Kerala - 682 018, India
Institutes offering diploma courses
- Central Institute of Fisheries Education,
Fisheries University Road
Andheri (W), Mumbai - 400061
Phone: +91 22 2636 1446 / 7 / 8
Fax: +91 22 2636 1573
- Indira Gandhi National Open University
- Shark Processing
Integrated Fisheries Project,
- Mate Fishing Vessel
Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training,
Cochin, Kerala, TN, AP.
The ASPARC in Visakhapatnam and OSSPARC in Bhubaneshwar are two major training centres for aquaculture. The courses at both these centres are of one month. Marine Product Export Development Authority (MPEDA) in Mumbai and Mangalore also offer a 30 day shrimp farm management course. MPEDA assists in job placements as well.
The eligibility for most of these courses is the study of science till class 12 in school. As the degree in aquaculture is a science degree, one needs to have studied science till class 12. Most institutes also make it mandatory to have studied biology till class 12. However, it is best to check with individual institutes to see what their requirements are. The cut offs for these institutes vary from institute to institute. Whether one needs to appear for any of the competitive exams or whether the school leaving exam is sufficient depends on the institute.
What one specializes in leads to what kinds of jobs one can look for later. If one is looking for a job in the industry, then one can specialize in the ways of breeding and cultivating fishes for industry. One can also specialize in fields which seek to cultivate aquatic life for use in medicine. One can then find a job in a pharmaceutical company.
If one is not looking for a job in the industry but rather wants to go into research and development, then one can specialise in studying the life patterns, habits and breeding patterns of fishes. One can specialize in either fresh water aquaculture or coastal aquaculture. One can also study about the preservation of marine life. With water pollution increasing rapidly, one can study about ways in which water pollution can be prevented and how toxic industrial wastes can be disposed of safely without destroying the ecological system. Commercial fishing as opposed to fish farming has led to the depletion in the population of several of the most widely consumed breeds of fishes. There are also opportunities to study the ways in which extinction of the most widely consumed breeds of fishes can be prevented. A ban on the extensive fishing of some breeds is one of the new fields that is being incorporated into aquaculture studies in India and also in other countries. One can also specialize in fish processing. Since aquaculture is end oriented, the processing as well as harvesting is an important part of studies in aquaculture.
Career Growth and Prospects
With the huge coastlines and the numerous inland water bodies in India, aquaculture presents a growing industry. Aquaculture is still in its early stages in India and there is a lot of scope for development. Fishes are an important export item for India because India, with its long coastlines, has excellent fish stocks. The career prospects and openings are therefore large.
One can find employment in fish farms in the areas of design, construction and management as well. The CFTRI's Biology department, Indian Council of Agricultural Research; the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and the MPEDA are all encouraging and boosting the aquaculture industry in India. With these efforts, the job prospects are not limited.
Aquaculture is a viable career option. With large paths of development lying ahead, the job returns are not limited. For teachers, the remuneration is as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. Even while one is a research fellow, one can get a salary of Rs 8,000 per month. For professors, the salary can go up to Rs 25,000 per month.
Farming supervisors can get a salary between Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000. For entrepreneurs, the returns are not defined but the scope is tremendous.
How to find a job?
One can either find a placement in industry or in pharmaceutical companies or go in for research and development and teaching.
One can find several openings in industry. Some of these are in farm management where one performs supervisory tasks like site selection, designing and construction ponds and other water bodies, feeding fishes, perform selective stocking, manage water quality, and monitor the fishes and prevent toxication or infection till they are harvested and also protecting the water body in general.
In hatchery management one can be engaged in brood stock collection, breeding fishes in artificial conditions, managing water quality, oxygen packing and transportation to the farms. One can also find jobs which try to provide equipment required in fish cultivation like nets, fishing vessels, machines or equipments for cleaning, salting and freezing fishes. Two low level jobs associated with the aquaculture industry are those of a fishery inspector and a deep sea fishery worker. One can get a job as a fishery inspector whose duty is to transport fish seed safely to different fishery stations. Deep sea fishery workers work as crew members of fishing vessels.
For research and development, one can be involved either with academic institutions or with the research and development sections of fishing companies or pharmaceutical companies. Teaching posts are available at all the institutes offering courses in aquaculture.