Discover Careers in Aquaculture

Please contact WCCC Workforce & Professional Development Department or (207) 214-7988



Washington County Community College (WCCC) and Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center (MAIC) have joined forces with partners, to bring you…


Programming is designed and led by Industry!


This program has been developed with funding from a USDA Agricultural Food & Research grant in partnership with the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and is grounded in numerous organizational and industry partnerships which will be key to delivering the industry designed programming.  Students will have the opportunity to start careers in the aquaculture sector statewide, as well as transfer into four-year programs.





Maine’s Aquaculture Industry is very diverse.  Maine’s extensive, sparsely developed, 3,500-mile coastline and proximity to the nutrient rich waters of the Gulf of Maine have favored an economy based on marine resources, and strong economic and cultural traditions, connecting working waterfronts to the sea. It incorporates freshwater and marine farming, of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.  Marine farming in Maine dates from the late 1960s when the state adopted statutes and regulations for leasing of state-owned areas in coastal waters below the mean low tide mark. Maine has supplied North American markets with seafood for 200 years and has earned a reputation for high quality and sustainably produced or harvested seafood.


According to the Maine Aquaculture Association, in 2018 there were 190 individual aquatic farms in Maine operated by lease holders, and 200 additional leaseholders who had yet to develop their businesses. Maine’s aquaculture sector has a direct economic impact of $73.4 million in output, and $35.7 in labor income. Since 2007, the total economic impact of aquaculture has almost tripled from $50 million to $137 million. In 2016, the industry employed 571 with many jobs related to aquaculture production as full-time, all-year positions. Less than 30% of employment were seasonal (Cole et al. 2017).


In the twentieth century, wild harvests of fish and shellfish have declined because of overharvesting, disruption of marine ecosystems, and most recently from the impacts of climate change (warming waters, ocean acidification and the threat of invasive species). By providing coastal communities the means to farm the sea, we can simultaneously support the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture, reduce the U.S. seafood trade deficit, improve U.S. food security, increase the resilience of coastal communities, and maintain coastal cultural and economic traditions associated with the working waterfront.










Running May 8th through June 9th, this 9-day course delivered over 7 weeks offers 2 college credits, for FREE! BIO 114 will introduce the basic principles of water quality and water chemistry and how they affect open and closed aquaculture systems. Learners will gain an understanding of the chemical properties of marine and fresh water and the impacts on farmed species when water quality becomes out of balance. Specific water quality parameters covered include pH, salinity, temperature, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, microbes, and pollutants. Learners will become proficient with tools and instruments commonly used to measure water quality conditions on farm sites.


Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe the foundational water quality principles in aquaculture
  • Explain the relationship between temperature and growth rates
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of turbidity, light, and total suspended solids in aquaculture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of dissolved oxygen and the importance of aeration
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of pH, alkalinity, and carbon dioxide in aquaculture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of nitrogen species in aquaculture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of good and bad microorganisms in aquaculture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of water quality and chemistry in aquaculture and their role in  animal/plant welfare and influence on the production of Maine’s key species
  • Demonstrate basic skills required of entry-level aquaculture positions (including but not limited to use of basic lab equipment, measurements, assessing levels, etc.


All lessons will be conducted via Zoom (2 hours of instruction per lesson, running from 2:00 to 4:00 PM), with the exception of Days 8 & 9 which will be conducted in person and consist of skills learning and demonstration experiences over the course of two days (8 hours per day, in person). Course instructors will provide Zoom connection links and in person skills learning locations at the beginning of the course. The class schedule is as follows. Schedule is subject to change.


Day 1: Introduction to Water Quality in Aquaculture

Monday, May 8

Day 2: Temperature

Monday, May 11

Day 3: Turbidity & Solids

Thursday, May 15

Day 4: Oxygen

Monday, May 18

Day 5: pH, Alkalinity & Carbon Dioxide

Thursday, May 22

Day 6: Nitrogen, Nitrates, Nitrites & Ammonia

Thursday, May 25

Day 7: Micro Organisms

Monday, June 1

Day 8 & Day 9 (in-person): Water Quality Maintenance & Measurement

(in-person 8-hour classes)

Friday, June 2

Friday, June 9

Days 8 and 9 of BIO 114 will consist of a 2-day in-person skills demonstrations and practice (8 hours per day). Each 8-hour day will entirely consist of simultaneous instruction and hands-on learning. Basic skills include, but are not limited to, measuring and monitoring temperature, the use of basic lab equipment, assessing levels, etc. Basic water quality management skills are sourced from the desired skills included in the Maine Aquaculture Association’s Occupational Standards for entry-level aquaculture positions.









Click the icon below to view the 2-page flyer for

BIO 114: Introduction to Water Quality & Water Chemistry in Aquaculture












Over the course of January through March of 2023, AQU 101 Introduction to Aquaculture and Industry Skills – Module A provided learners with and introduction to the basic principles and practices of aquaculture from local, national and international perspectives. Learners gained a basic understanding of the parameters that contribute to a successful aquafarm, and factors controlling the growth and development of the aquaculture industry. In May of 2023, Module A will be followed up by AQU 101 Introduction to Aquaculture and Industry Skills – Module B which ties in the skills learning and demonstration phase of the course via a 2-day, in person Aquaculture Career Skills Boot Camp. This immersive skills learning experience will provide experiential, hands-on training of basic aquaculture skills that are listed within the Maine Aquaculture Association’s Occupational Standards for entry-level aquaculture positions, including but not limited to knot-tying, water safety, boat navigation, trailering, use of basic lab equipment, mooring design etc.


Check out our AQU 101 lineup!



Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Gain a historic and global overview of aquaculture
  • Demonstrate an understanding of shellfish species farmed globally, nationally and within Maine
  • Demonstrate an understanding of marine and freshwater fin fish species farmed globally, nationally and within Maine
  • Demonstrate an understanding of aquatic environments, water quality, and water treatment through learning how to use and apply ocean observation platforms
  • Identify examples of intensive and extensive aquaculture systems in shellfish, fin fish, and algae sectors
  • Evaluate physical, chemical, and biological aspects of aquaculture site and create a site selection plan through learning how to use and apply Google Earth and GIS applications
  • Demonstrate an understanding of micro and macro algal species farmed for food, pharmaceuticals, and other uses globally, nationally and within Maine
  • Compare and contrast controversial and non-controversial aquaculture lease processes through a gained understanding of social, regulatory, and economic aspects of site selection including distribution, logistics and markets


Week 1: Introduction to Aquaculture

Week 2: Introduction to Aquaculture

Week 3: Culture Systems

Week 4: Site Selection

Week 5: Shellfish

Week 6: Fin Fish

Week 7: Algae

Week 8: Social, Regulatory, and Economic Aspects of Aquaculture






Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate basic water safety and navigation skills
  • Demonstrate boat trailering skills
  • Demonstrate basic lab equipment functionality pertaining to aquaculture careers.
  • Identify basic knots used in marine careers and effectively demonstrate how to tie each knot.
  • Demonstrate the basics of mooring design, construction and deployment.








In August of 2022, AQU 112 Exploring Careers in Aquaculture brought a small cohort of five students along a journey across aquaculture careers in Eastern Maine! Lodging, travel, and meal accommodations were coordinated by MAIC and WCCC, funded by USDA’s AFRI Education and Workforce Development Program, and provided at Downeast Institute on Beals Island. Students visited a range of aquaculture operations and become familiar with different roles and responsibilities and related pathways, which included field trips to shellfish, algae and fin fish hatcheries, land-based recirculating aquaculture operations, marine-based fin fish and shellfish operations, processing facilities, and research facilities. Students met with people across a broad range of careers including farming/production, biotechnology, processing, distribution and transport, gear/equipment manufacturing, veterinarians and aquatic animal health professionals, entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, advocacy, education, policy and regulation, research, engineering, food science, and more!



Check out our AQU 112 lineup!


Day 1 – Zoom Classroom

Cohort Orientation, Course Introduction, and Introduction to Aquaculture Careers across the globe


Day 2 – on-site at Downeast Institute (DEI)

Tour of DEI & Exploring careers in shellfish/fin fish aquaculture production


Day 3 – field excursion to Eastport

Exploring careers in fin fish aquaculture production, advocacy & education


Day 4 – field excursion to Trenton

Exploring careers in shellfish aquaculture production (oysters, scallops & mussels) and seaweed production


Day 5 – field excursion to Franklin

Exploring careers in seaweed processing, aquaculture research & fin fish aquaculture


Day 6 – field excursion to East Machias

Exploring careers in conservation & education


Day 7 – Zoom Classroom

Bringing it all together & cohort video presentations





At the end of the 7-day August 2022 course, the first Aquaculture Apprenticeship in Maine was established! Mandy Everett, an Exploring Careers in Aquaculture student, worked with Nichole Sawyer, WCCC Dean of Workforce & Professional Development and Megan Sorby, Kingfish Maine Operations Manager, to establish a transition into a full-time RAS Technician position.





What students in future runs of AQU 112 can expect


AQU 112 Exploring Careers in Aquaculture continues to offer hands-on, immersive group learning experiences in an accelerated format and includes 2 days of orientation and cohort-building activities and 5 days of career and industry learning experiences. Students who successfully complete the course will receive 3 college credits, for free! 


Day 1 and Day 7 are delivered asynchronously via Zoom. Day 2 through Day 6 are in-person* career excursions.


AQU 112 is a residential course whereby students stay on a designated campus or make arrangements to meet the cohort on campus each day for field trip transportation.


*Lodging, meals, and transportation accommodations will be provided. It is a requirement that all participants be at least 18 years old. Up to date COVID-19 vaccinations and available booster vaccinations are required.


















You are supported now, and into the future!


Maine aquaculture enthusiasts, students, teachers, business owners, communities and innovators are well-supported through programs, partnerships and opportunities. Click on the workforce ecosystem map below to view an ever-growing, ever-connecting chain of available supports and resources! Check back frequently, as we are continually adding and updating learning opportunities and resources!












Please contact WCCC Workforce & Professional Development Department or (207) 214-7988


These programs are funded by USDA’s AFRI Education and Workforce Development Program and Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, in partnership with WCCC, and Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center.



Washington County Community College does not discriminate on the basis of color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or marital, parental, or veteran’s status in its programs and activities.