Maine Aquaculture Association releases first-of-its-kind occupational standards for industry
The Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) released occupational standards for the state’s aquaculture industry this week, publicly setting the bar for workforce skills and training needs in the marine finfish, land-based recirculating aquaculture system, land-based shellfish hatchery, and marine shellfish and sea vegetable sectors.
According to the organization, this is the first occupational standards document in the country for the aquaculture industry.
"Based on a strong collaboration between the farmers and the educational community, these standards will help ensure that Maine aquaculture businesses have the skills and training needed to compete in a global market,” MAA Executive Director Sebastian Belle said.
The association represents around 190 farms generating approximately USD 100 million (EUR 86 million) in farm gate value.
The occupational standards – completed in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Educate Maine, and with support from FocusMaine – are intended to achieve multiple goals, such as presenting education and training providers with a clear and comprehensive understanding of the specific technical skills and knowledge that are critical for the most common careers in each sector, standardizing workforce training in the state, and establishing an industry-led process to align training with workforce needs as the industry’s needs evolve.
Each sector document includes a thorough list of potential positions within an operation, with suggestions for job descriptions, required backgrounds, and suggested skills to be successful in the position.
The project team at the Maine Aquaculture Association plans to update the occupational standards regularly to remain current with the changing workforce needs of Maine’s evolving aquaculture in industry.
"The development of these first-of-their-kind standards shows once again that Maine's sea farmers are leading the nation in the emergence of a competitive and sustainable domestic aquaculture sector," Belle said.
Several organizations in Maine have been pushing to boost the state’s aquaculture operations by eliminating barriers to entry and increasing aquaculture education. Last year, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute launched an online portal, “The Maine Aquaculturist,” designed to help aquaculture operations in the U.S. state of Maine access resources in the state. The portal is a centralized place for resources and information to be posted to assist aquaculturists in starting or maintaining their operations.
Photo courtesy of the Maine Aquaculture Association