New era for aquaculture industry training

23 March 2023

Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga is launching all-new aquaculture training programmes, making formal, specialised training across fin fish, shellfish and hatchery available for the first time.

The New Zealand Certificates in Aquaculture level 3 and 4, and an associated apprenticeship, are the culmination of a much-needed revamp of training that had been around since the mid 1990s. 

“Up till now, if you wanted formal learning about aquaculture, you would need to take time away from the workplace and go to a classroom,” says Primary ITO’s Seafood Sector Manager Daniel Edmonds.

“Now you can learn on the job, with the best training resources, supported by a Primary ITO training adviser and your own more experienced colleagues.” 

The new Level 3 programme enables people at the beginning of their careers, as technicians and farm assistants, to learn about the routine operations of daily care, husbandry and monitoring of fish or shellfish in an aquaculture operation.

For those looking to develop further, the Level 4 certificate will mean people can become experienced operators in either aquaculture diving, hatchery, fish or shellfish operations involved with stock management and other aquaculture operations.

The development has been in partnership with the seafood industry.

Daniel says having different strands of learning available for the three major species in the New Zealand aquaculture industry – Pacific oysters, Greenshell mussles and King salmon – ensures they’re relevant for each workplace.

“What we know about industry training is that people learn better on the job. It also helps with staff recruitment and retention as good employers are committed to developing their people.

“These formal programmes are also great for some of the grittier requirements of aquaculture, like environmental and safety compliance. Learning that through a formal framework ensures that nothing is missed.”

Involved in seafood industry training for over 20 years, Daniel believes the industry has a bright future, and the time is right for new aquaculture programmes with the increasing demand for seafood being matched by the demand for sustainability.

“New Zealand has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones of any country – our sea space is 15 times the size of our land. I believe aquaculture will become one of the most important industries we have for providing employment and revenue for NZ. There is so much potential. Training and upskilling our biggest asset, our people, is critical to its success."

Aquaculture expertise at Primary ITO

Experienced aquaculturist Michael Stewart has joined Primary ITO as a seafood training adviser, joining longtime seafood Sector Manager Daniel Edmonds.

Michael has been working in seafood and aquaculture since 2003 when he began at NZ King Salmon’s farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

“It was there that I followed a workplace training programme that I could use to gauge my progress and start to build a career,” says Michael.

From there, Michael worked with Pacific oysters in the Firth of Thames, Atlantic salmon in Tasmania and pond farming of prawns in Queensland. More recently, he’s been back in Marlborough and Nelson, larval rearing Greenshell mussels in a lab in Nelson, and running the aquaculture programme at Queen Charlotte College in Picton.

“That’s been a significant part of my professional journey and why I’ve now become a seafood training adviser. I'm looking forward to working with companies across Nelson-Marlborough, helping build skills and expertise in their businesses and helping learners achieve their goals.”

For more information on aquaculture and seafood programmes contact us here.