Stuart Fitzsimmons: 'This is an important step for Shetland UHI into a major potential new market.'
Stuart Fitzsimmons: "This is an important step for Shetland UHI into a major potential new market."

Shetland aquaculture college cast its net to Southeast Asia

More than 20 students from Southeast Asia have enrolled on a new online aquaculture training course developed and delivered by Shetland UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands), which was formed by the merger of Shetland College UHI, North Atlantic Fisheries College (NAFC) Marine Centre and Train Shetland in August. 

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The bespoke training course provides an introduction to offshore cage aquaculture and is aimed at fish farmers whose main experience has been in the estuarine and inshore fish farms that are more common in SE Asia. The fully online course covers topics such as the hatchery and cage production of farmed fish, fish health, cage technology, and biosecurity, Shetland UHI said in a press release.

The new course was developed at the request of the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) which is a global producer of feed for fish farms in Asia and the Americas. USSEC and its representatives in Asia are keen to promote offshore cage production due to the potential this offers to expand the aquaculture industry in Asia. Previously the USSEC would have sent Asian fish farmers to Mediterranean fish farms to gain experience and training in offshore cage production but that has not been possible during the Covid pandemic.

Online experience 

In search of an alternative, USSEC’s UK representative approached Shetland UHI due to its experience of delivering online aquaculture training courses and agreement was reached for the college to develop the new course.

The course is delivered fully online using the UHI’s ‘Brightspace’ Virtual Learning Environment which can be accessed on any internet-enabled device. Students can study whenever and wherever they choose and receive support from tutors at Shetland UHI.

To date 21 students from Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia have enrolled on the course and the intention is to offer it also to students in Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia and Brunei.

Study when it suits

Stuart Fitzsimmons, Shetland UHI’s section leader for aquaculture training, said: “This is an important step for Shetland UHI into a major potential new market for aquaculture training.

“It builds on the considerable experience we have gained over the last few years in delivering online training for many types of aquaculture in many parts of the world.

“For fish farmers online training offers huge advantages as they can study when and where it suits them without having to attend timetabled classes which may conflict with work commitments. For Shetland UHI it allows us to deliver training to students anywhere in the world, vastly increasing our potential market.”

First bespoke course

This is the first bespoke aquaculture course that the college has developed for overseas clients, but its other online aquaculture courses in subjects such as Aquaculture Management, Biosecurity, Fish Farm Containment, Fish Welfare and RAS Water Quality Awareness are being delivered to a growing number of international students in many parts of the world.

These have included fish farmers in Mexico and the college recently enrolled a student from Hong Kong on its CPD (continuing professional development) Aquaculture Management course.