Aquaculture engineering is a growing multi-disciplinary field primarily concerned with designing and maintaining sea cages, ponds and water reticulation systems. The rapid growth of this career path mirrors the growth of global aquaculture production – which now accounts for more than half of all seafood products consumed.
According to a recent AgriSeta skills booklet, an aquaculture engineer “plans, organises, directs, controls and coordinates the design and construction of engineering and process plants in an aquaculture farm/plant context”.
While some skills may be acquired in-house, aquaculture engineers typically have diverse experience across multiple sectors. Maintenance experience specific to individual farms would be required or developed over time.
Engineers working in marine environments would need marine engineering design, installation and maintenance skills as well as, in some cases training in oceanography and hydrodynamics.
• Build / design / maintain water reticulation systems.
• Design and build water ponds or cages.
• Research innovative ways of improving aquaculture infrastructure.
• Design marine structures and installations as well as help with identifying and sourcing the necessary building materials.
Entry-level jobs require little or no formal training other than high school education. However more skilled or senior jobs require academic or technical specialised training, both in-house and via external service providers. A chief engineer would require a formal engineering qualification including aquaculture specialisation.
Aquaculture engineers can easily migrate into other industrial sectors that also involve water reticulation systems, such as mining. Engineering skills are generally in short supply, both in South Africa and in many parts of the world.