AQUACULTURE students from around the world have enrolled on a fish welfare course run from Shetland, thanks to online learning.
More than 200 students – from Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Canada – have signed up to the course since it was launched, by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.
The course was developed by NAFC’s aquaculture training staff at the request of the industry to help maintain high standards of fish welfare.
It was also designed to help the sector meet the training and compliance requirements of various certification schemes and codes of practice, including the RSPCA welfare standards for farmed Atlantic salmon and GLOBALG.A.P.
The course is relevant to all forms of finfish aquaculture and covers a range of topics relevant to the welfare and product quality of farmed fish, including legislation and codes of practice, water quality, husbandry, fish handling and harvesting, and diseases and treatments (including sea lice).
Course lecturer Saro Saravanan said: ‘The course was developed in collaboration with the aquaculture industry, and we have continued to work with them since it was launched to make sure that it remains relevant to their operations and the changing regulatory and certification requirements that they face.
‘We have also adapted the course to meet the needs of staff working in different sectors of the industry, including hatcheries, marine and freshwater on-growing sites, and live fish transport.
‘Most recently we have started supporting candidates from the aquaponics sector, where fish and plants are grown together in the same system.’
NAFC’s head of Aquaculture Training, Stuart Fitzsimmons, said online delivery is allowing NAFC to overcome geographical and other barriers to training.
‘Many of those who sign up for online learning work irregular hours in remote areas and would find it difficult to attend normal college classes,’ he said.
‘Instead, they can study this and other online courses on their smartphone or other internet enabled device at times and places that suit them.
‘Online delivery is also allowing us to offer the training to students outside our traditional catchment area and we have seen a growing number of enrolments from throughout Europe and across the Atlantic.’
The Fish Welfare course is also available as a traditional taught class, which NAFC’s staff have delivered to hundreds more students throughout Scotland.
A number of other NAFC aquaculture training courses are also available online, including Introductory Fish Farm Containment, and the Technical Apprenticeship in Aquaculture Management.
The centre plans to launch an online version of its RAS Water Quality Awareness course later in 2019, along with a new CPD course in Aquaculture Management and a new Fish Vaccination course.