Two men test water samples in a factory

An aquacultural manager could...


Provide consumers with top-grade, sustainable seafood. Fish laid on a bed of ice at a market Find environmentally friendly ways of farming fish. Aerial photo of a fish pen in the ocean
Manage oyster beds that supply top-quality pearls to jewelers. A pearl inside of an oyster shell Stock a lake to make sure recreational fishermen go home with a trophy. A young boy holds a fishing line with a bass hooked at the end
Find out more...

Key Facts & Information

Overview Walk by the supermarket's fresh fish counter and you will see a collection of marine ambassadors from around the world. You might see shrimp from Thailand, salmon from Canada, and flounder from the United States of America. Some of the fish is wild, caught by fishermen from the open seas; but these days, a lot of fish and shellfish is farm raised. Aquacultural managers direct operations on farms and fish hatcheries that cultivate ocean and freshwater fish for human consumption, recreation, and research. The field of aquacultural management is an example of biotechnology. It is the intersection of biology, chemistry, and cutting-edge technical equipment.
Key Requirements Mechanical aptitude, an interest in animal biology, good communication skills, reasoning and problem-solving skills
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Biology, chemistry, algebra, algebra II, geometry, calculus, English, if available: computer science, statistics
Median Salary
Aquacultural Manager
  $66,360
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
  $49,630
Min Wage
  $15,080
$0
$10,000
$20,000
$30,000
$40,000
$50,000
$60,000
$70,000
$80,000
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Little or No Change (-2% to 2%)
Interview
  • Meet Francina Martinez-Valencia, the manager of Lisboa Springs Hatchery in New Mexico.
  • Jeff Malwitz is a longterm hatchery manager of the Cikana State Fish Hatchery near Martinsville. Read about the many facets of his work as an aquacultural manager.
Related Occupations
  • Nursery and greenhouse managers
  • Crop and livestock managers
  • Farmers and ranchers
  • Range managers
  • Farm and home management advisors
  • First-line supervisors/managers of aquacultural workers
  • First-line supervisors/managers of agricultural crop and horticultural workers
  • First-line supervisors/managers of animal husbandry and animal care workers
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

Many state-run hatcheries require that the manager have a bachelor's degree in fishery sciences or a related field, and pass a civil service exam.

Because of rapid changes in the industry, aquacultural managers need to stay informed about continuing advances in aquacultural methods, both in the United States and abroad. They need to monitor changes in governmental regulations that may affect production methods or markets. Besides print journals that inform the aquacultural community, managers use the Internet for quick access to the latest developments in research areas such as fish breeding.

Education and Training

Most entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree in fishery sciences or a related field. For students interested in aquaculture, formal programs include coursework in fisheries biology, fish culture, hatchery management and maintenance, and hydrology.

Other Qualifications

Aquacultural managers need managerial skills to organize and operate a business. They must also be familiar with complex safety regulations and requirements of governmental agricultural support programs. Computer skills are becoming increasingly important, especially on large farms, where computers are widely used for recordkeeping, business analysis, and scientific data analysis. In addition, skills in personnel management, communication, and conflict resolution are important in the operation of a farm business.

Mechanical aptitude and the ability to work with tools of all kinds also are valuable skills for an aquacultural manager, who often maintain and repair equipment.

Nature of the Work

Aquaculture farmers raise fish and shellfish in marine, brackish, or fresh water, usually in ponds, floating net pens, raceways, or recirculating systems. They stock, feed, protect, and otherwise manage aquatic life sold for consumption or used for research or recreational fishing. Aquacultural managers manage the day-to-day activities of one or more fish and shellfish farms and hatcheries. Their duties and responsibilities focus both on the business and on the technological aspects of running a farm.

Watch this video to learn more about the fish hatchery manager's job. This job is a multifaceted one. He or she has to direct the efforts of hatchery workers, keep abreast of the latest fish breeding technology, and be familiar with the business side of the operation.

Work Environment

Aquacultural managers spend part of the day working outdoors, and the other part of the day working indoors on computers. The outdoor work of aquacultural managers is often strenuous; work hours are frequently long. Hours can vary depending on the time of the year and the needs of the fish.

Aquacultural jobs can be hazardous. Equipment can cause serious injury, and workers must be constantly alert on the job. The proper operation of equipment and handling of chemicals are necessary to avoid accidents, safeguard health, and protect the environment.

On the Job

  • Grow fish and shellfish as cash crops or for release into freshwater or saltwater.
  • Supervise and train aquaculture and fish hatchery support workers.
  • Collect and record growth, production, and environmental data.
  • Conduct and supervise stock examinations in order to identify diseases or parasites.
  • Account for and disburse funds.
  • Devise and participate in activities to improve fish hatching and growth rates, and to prevent disease in hatcheries.
  • Monitor environments to ensure maintenance of optimum conditions for aquatic life.
  • Direct and monitor trapping and spawning of fish, egg incubation, and fry rearing, applying knowledge of management and fish culturing techniques.
  • Coordinate the selection and maintenance of brood stock.
  • Direct and monitor the transfer of mature fish to lakes, ponds, streams, or commercial tanks.
  • Determine, administer, and execute policies relating to operations administration and standards, and facility maintenance.
  • Collect information regarding techniques for fish collection and fertilization, spawn incubation, and treatment of spawn and fry.
  • Determine how to allocate resources, and how to respond to unanticipated problems such as insect infestation, drought, and fire.
  • Operate and maintain cultivating and harvesting equipment.
  • Confer with biologists, fish pathologists, and other fishery personnel to obtain data concerning fish habits, diseases, food, and environmental requirements.
  • Prepare reports required by state and federal laws.
  • Identify environmental requirements of a particular species, and select and oversee the preparation of sites for species cultivation.
  • Scuba dive in order to inspect sea farm operations.
  • Design and construct pens, floating stations, and collector strings or fences for sea farms.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Aquacultural Managers

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

Science Fair Project Idea
Chemicals from Earth's atmosphere are making their way down to the planet! Not in spaceships, but in rain. The acid rain can infiltrate ground water, lakes, and streams. How does acid rain affect aquatic ecosystems? Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
How are we going to feed the more than 9 billion people that will live on Earth by 2050? This is a major question for farmers, ranchers, and food scientists around the globe. It's a big problem, considering that from 2017 to 2050 we will be adding 1.5 billion people and need 20% more food. Linked to this problem of producing enough food is having enough land, water, and other natural resources to make that happen. The final solution will surely be made up of many different approaches working… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
You might not know it, but a lake without algae would be a very dull place. If there were no algae, there would be no small animals feeding on the algae, and there wouldn't be any fish eating the small animals that eat the algae. You might conclude that since some algae is good, more algae is even better, but algae growth has a down side. If there is too much algae, they can deplete the oxygen in the water, killing off other species in the water. What is one culprit that leads to algal growth?… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Many people routinely use fertilizer for crops, gardens, and lawns. What people don't know is that each time they apply fertilizer, the fertilizer seeps through the soil into the water table. This can eventually lead to the contamination of a local water source, like a stream, pond, lake, bay, or ocean. This is an especially big problem for agricultural practices that frequently use large amounts of fertilizer on fields that are connected by irrigation channels. The run-off of fertilizer… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
You might know that lead can be toxic, and that you can get lead poisoning from eating or inhaling old paint dust. Lead is called a heavy metal, and there are other sources of heavy metals that can be toxic, too. Silver, copper, mercury, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium are all heavy metals that can be toxic in certain environments. In this experiment, find out if one common heavy metal, copper, can be toxic to an aquatic environment. Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
Did you know that when you use fertilizer in your garden, it can eventually reach a lake, stream, or pond? There are many different chemicals present in fertilizers. How will they affect the aquatic organisms in the ecosystem? In this science project you will get to find out! Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
When you go to the beach, you may not know if the beach is natural or man-made. The popularity of sandy beaches prompted developers in the past to bring in sand to cover rocky shorelines and turn them into more popular sandy beaches. However, the actions of the tides, currents and waves carried the extra sand out into the reef, endangering the reef and the creatures living on it. You can use a water table to conduct experiments with sand movements and reefs. How is sand moved by water? How… Read more
Science Fair Project Idea
The sustainability of our ocean fisheries is a topic of concern for many, including environmentalists and fishermen who make their living on the bounty of the sea. It is important to use sustainable fishing practices so that our fisheries are not over-fished leading to a decline in productivity. Some states require fish markets to post information about their fish so that consumers can make informed decisions about which fish to buy. They post the type of fish (e.g., Coho Salmon), the source of… Read more

Ask Questions

Do you have a specific question about a career as an Aquacultural Manager that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.

Sources

Free science fair projects.