What you need to know before studying Aquaculture

What is aquaculture?

Aquaculture is essentially agriculture, but with fin fish, shellfish and aquatic plants like seaweed instead of terrestrial plants  or livestock. Modern aquaculture is done in a controlled environment mostly to produce food for consumption and other commercial products such as fish oil capsules or ornamental items like pearls.

In the video below, Dr Susan Gibson-Kueh, a Senior Research Fellow at JCU Singapore explains what aquaculture is and addresses the common misconceptions.

Why is aquaculture important?

Overfishing is a huge environmental problem due to the growing demand for fish and seafood globally.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) over 80% of the world’s wild fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. Overfishing has disrupted the ecosystems, taking away predators or prey species from the oceans.

Here are some of the issues caused by excessive fishing:

  • Trawling of nets along the sea bed, causing damage and stirring up sea sediments.
  • Wasteful bycatch where fishes or other marine species are caught and removed unintentionally, affecting the marine foodchain ecosystems;

Short of abstaining from seafood, aquaculture is seen as the only solution to fill in the gaps of our seafood supply. Sustainable farming fish will allow future generations to access healthy and eco-friendly protein options.

This is due to its ability to efficiently reduce wild-caught fish options and while supplying the demand of seafood worldwide.

Is aquaculture a good career pathway?

It is estimated that 10 billion people will inhabit the planet by 2050 and this would increase the demand for animal protein by 52%!

Being one of the fastest-growing food industry, Aquaculture can play an important role to meet the needs for sustainable and healthy approaches to feeding the world.

Rapid technological advances are being deployed to keep up with these demands and companies require highly skilled professionals to help maintain and enhance the production of the farms.

Here in Singapore, the government is aware of this and has announced the 30 by 30 food security goal where it aims for our tiny island nation to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by the year 2030.

However, the empty shelves at supermarkets and disruptions to global supply chains due to the global pandemic have highlighted how food security is especially important to Singapore.

The government’s “30 by 30” goal may need to be achieved sooner and aquaculture will play a role in meeting our nutritional needs.

What kind of jobs can I get with an aquaculture degree?

These are some of the jobs within the Aquaculture sphere:

  • Hatcheries management
  • Stock nutrition programs and management
  • Fresh water and marine farming
  • Aquaculture research and development

Where can I study Aquaculture in Singapore?

At the diploma level, Republic Polytechnic runs a Diploma in Marine Science and Aquaculture on a full-time basis.

Temasek Polytechnic also offers the Diploma in Applied Science (Aquaculture) but only for part-time students. Temasek Polytechnic also offers a 12-month work-study certificate programme which targets fresh ITE graduates which leads to their Diploma in Applied Science (Aquaculture).

At the undergraduate level, James Cook University Singapore seems to be the only university offering a programme in aquaculture for now. They have two courses, the Bachelor of Business and Environmental Science (majoring in Aquaculture) and the Bachelor of Science (majoring in Aquaculture Science and Technology).

If you’re interested in the JCU aquaculture degree programmes, do consider registering for the course preview.