CHOOSING A CAREER / MAR. 17, 2014
version 2, draft 2

Countryside Careers: The Fish Farmer

If you dream of working miles away from the crowds and noise of the city in a role where you can get really close to nature, enjoy fresh sea air and exercise and have the satisfaction of knowing that your work provides the nation with supplies of fresh, healthy food; a career working as a fish farmer may be perfect for you. 

As a fish farmer, you would work outdoors in all weathers in a varied and practical role within a small team.  You would be responsible for breeding and rearing fish and shellfish, harvesting stock for sale at market and monitoring water conditions. 

There aren’t any formal qualifications required to enter this industry but physical fitness and the ability to swim is a must as is the ability to work on your own initiative with minimal supervision and you will need a driving licence.  You must be IT literate and have good organisational and communication skills.

The work

Aquaculture, to give fish farming its proper name, is an interesting and varied career option with plenty of opportunities if you’re prepared to work hard and try different things.  You could work on a commercial fish farm breeding shellfish and fish for the table such as trout, halibut and salmon or perhaps start your own business rearing sport fish to stock rivers and lakes for anglers, or even work producing fancy carp and goldfish for ornamental ponds.

Your duties would include; taking eggs from existing adult stock fish and hatching them or purchasing young fish and rearing them.  The fish must be fed either by hand or through automatic hoppers which you would have to fill.  You would carry out daily maintenance duties such as moving fish to bigger tanks as they grow, monitoring health and checking water quality and temperature.

The filters and screens used to keep fish holding areas clear of leaves and other debris require regular cleaning and water must be treated before being allowed to re-enter the environment.  Fish habitats and associated buildings all require maintenance and you would be required to work on this. 

When the fish are ready for sale, you would liaise with clients and take stock to the market.  Another of your regular duties would be to visit suppliers for fish feed and pharmaceutical products.

As a manager, in addition to your daily hands-on tasks, you would also supervise other fish farm workers.

Hours

Your hours of work would be on a rota system to include early mornings, evenings and weekends.  Fish farms operate seven days a week and you would be required to work five days out of that seven.  Any extra hours you work would be paid as overtime.

Income

Your initial salary would be around £13,000 to £16,000 per annum, rising to £21,000 as you gain experience.  As a manager you could earn up to £35,000, more if you made it to Regional Manager level. 

Your remuneration package may include a house and the use of a vehicle.

Entry requirements

Although not strictly necessary, you could gain some formal qualifications through an agricultural college.  Such qualifications could include; Level 1 Award/Certificate in Fisheries Management and Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Fish Husbandry.  More information of which colleges offer these courses can be found at the following link: http://www.landex.org.uk

Training and development

There are other relevant qualifications and training courses you could take once you are employed in the fish farming industry.  These include; Level 2 Diploma in Work-based Fish Husbandry and Fisheries Management, Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Fish Management and there are also several foundation degrees available in Fisheries Management.

Useful resources

http://www.ifm.org.uk (Institute of Fisheries Management)
http://www.landex.org.uk (Training courses)

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