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Aquaculture

March 13, 2019, 2:24 p.m.

Aqua Science is the multi-disciplinary study of the Earths Oceanic and fresh water environments. About three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered with water, so aqua science has emerged as an important subject area. Also known as Aquatic Science, the subject encompasses a range of disciplines concerned with the oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, wetlands etc, their geology and composition, and the life forms that live in them. It tries to predict the quality of life for future generations, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depletion, and changes in currents and ocean temperature. In a broad sense it studies the earths interrelated elements such as atmosphere, oceans and land mass, the changes in their processes, and their relationship to the changes happening to the earth.

Important subject areas under Aquatic Science include Aquaculture which refers to the cultivation of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants under controlled conditions; Oceonography which explores oceans and estuaries by integrating the principles of Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Meteorology and Physics to study; Limnology which studies rivers, lakes, streams, ponds etc using the same principles of basic sciences, Marine geology etc.

Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish. It further covers an important subject area called Mariculture which refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments. Particular kinds of aquaculture include algaculture (the production of kelp/seaweed and other algae); fish farming; shrimp farming, shellfish farming, and the growing of cultured pearls. Aquaculture is nothing but the commercial breeding and farming of various species of fish and aquatic species under controlled conditions. The main aspect of aquaculture is fish cultivation which is aimed at human consumption and for industrial and medicinal purposes. Aquaculture is perhaps one of the oldest industries in the world. One of the first known countries to adopt aquaculture is China in 2500 BC. Aquaculture however expanded and became a full fledged industry only in the 20th century.

Aquaculture and fisheries is related to one another and one can hardly make out any difference between the two. Though Aquaculture and fisheries have more similarities between them, there is a significant difference between aquaculture and fisheries. Fisheries are concerned with fish or shellfish. It mainly deals with catching, processing and selling of fish. On the other hand, Aquaculture is related to the cultivation of both aquatic animals and aquatic plants. Aquaculture is also called as 'fish farming' and it involves the natural or controlled cultivation of shellfish, fish and seaweed in fresh water and marine environments. Fisheries are solely related to catching wild fish or raising and harvesting fish through aquaculture or fish farming. On the other hand, Aquaculture is not pertained to cultivating and harvesting fishes alone. While fishery professionals focus on commercial aspects of sea food production, processing and marketing, aquaculturists focus on the production and breeding of all varieties of commercial aquatic species. Aquaculture is a science that involves all aspects of marine life. Some examples of aquaculture include raising catfish and tilapia in freshwater ponds, growing cultured pearls, and farming salmon in net-pens set out in a bay.

Farmers, who breed and grow shellfish, crustaceans, finfish or aquatic plants for profit in controlled or semi-controlled settings are called aquaculturists. In general, aquaculturists may work on ocean pens off the coast growing marine finfish, or on inland farms where freshwater species can be cultivated in ponds. Aquaculturists are responsible for designing and construction of fish farming ponds and fish hatchery units as well as aquarium management for the production of ornamental fish species which has great export value. Aquaculturists may be concerned with the raising of aquatic animals and plants for reasons such as production of food, stocking of public water bodies, and for public or home aquaria.

 

Eligibility & Course Areas

 

Educational: The eligibility for most of these courses is 10+2 science preferably with Physics, chemistry, biology or geology. Most institutes make it mandatory to have a background knowledge in biology. It basically depends on the individual institutions. For undergraduate programmes like B.Sc in aqua science, minimum requirement is generally a pass in plus two or its equivalent with biology/maths, physics and chemistry subjects. Similarly for post graduate qualification like an M.Sc in aqua science, a graduate degree in science Or Higher degrees in related fields are preferred. One can also opt for Mariculture. Aspirants can go for Ph.D. after getting a master's degree. Diploma courses are also offered in this field by several institutes. These diploma courses can be of 1 to 3 years. Small certificate courses are also offered by some academic institutions.

These courses enable the career aspirants to learn various aspects of the marine and fishery industry such as inland and freshwater aquaculture, commercial fish production technology, fish cultivation as well as the preservation , sophisticated fish processing and post harvest technology, controlled environment storage of fresh and processed seafood etc. The students are also taught about water pollution and the ways of preventing the same. Marketing of the products form an important part of the course syllabus.

Personal attributes: Besides having a solid foundation in the basic concepts of the discipline and a keen interest for underwater environments and various water-bodies, a strong skill of observation, good color vision, patience, good physical health, perseverance and interest in outdoor activities are some of the personal traits needed for this field. Good verbal / written communication skills, Computer literacy, knowledge of basic statistics are an added advantage.

 

Job Prospects & Career Options

 

Major careers available in this field are as aquaculturists, fish farm or aqua farm managers, hatchery unit managers, sea food exporters, seafood traders, fish breeding professionals and so on. One can find employment in the various fish farms or interested students can get into research where there is a huge need. In farm management, one performs supervisory tasks like site selection, designing and construction of 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. Aqua culturists are also needed in the pharmaceutical industry for the preparation of various medicines. Freshers in this field can start off as fishery inspector or a deep sea fishery worker. Fishery inspector's 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. One can also find jobs in equipment manufacturing units which provide equipments required in fish cultivation like nets, fishing vessels, machines or equipments for cleaning, salting and freezing fishes. Self employment is a good career option in this field.

 

Remuneration

 

Aquaculture is a viable career option. With large paths of development lying ahead, the job returns are unlimited. Freshers can expect a pay package ranging between Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. Farming supervisors can get a salary between Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000.

For teachers, the remuneration is as per the UGC guidelines. Even while one is a research fellow, he/she can get a salary of Rs 8,000 per month. For entrepreneurs, the returns are not defined but the scope is tremendous.

 



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