June 18, 2020

Aquaculture Researcher / Aquatic Biologist

As an aquaculture researcher or aquatic biologist, your role involves studying and managing aquatic ecosystems, with a focus on the cultivation of aquatic organisms for various purposes, such as food production, conservation, or research.

Researchers are primarily concerned with finding new and innovative ways of improving farm efficiency or developing new techniques and processes to either streamline operations or develop new farming opportunities.

The exponential growth of aquaculture, both in South Africa and abroad, has led to bigger farms and more harvested species. Increased production has spawned experimental research projects across the globe.

Aquaculture researchers may be employed directly by private aquaculture companies or by institutes or government departments conducting aquaculture research. The sector also offers many international research and training opportunities. The South African government has identified three key research areas: species diversification and competitiveness; animal health and diseases; interaction between the environment and agriculture.

Key tasks:

Conduct research on aquatic species, their behaviour, physiology, genetics, and ecology.

Develop and optimize aquaculture systems, including recirculating systems, pond systems, and marine aquaculture setups.

Identify and select suitable species for aquaculture based on market demand, environmental sustainability, and biological feasibility.

Investigate and develop strategies for the prevention and control of diseases in aquatic organisms.

Assess and mitigate the environmental impact of aquaculture activities, including waste management and habitat preservation.

Entry requirements/training:

Scientific training and formal qualifications are essential, with a minimum MSc requirement. Post-graduate studies are preferred, depending upon the size of the business. Researchers in this field need a thorough knowledge of aquatic biology and general grounding in scientific research, in addition to experience in running clinical trials.

Career advancement:

Researchers at this level can migrate to careers in academia or the international regulatory environment.

Associated job opportunities:

As an aquaculture researcher or aquatic biologist, there are various job opportunities available in different sectors. Here are some potential career paths and associated job opportunities:

Fisheries Biologist

Aquaculture Specialist

Environmental Scientist

Conservation Biologist

Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisor