The initiative is a collaboration between the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) and the province’s Department of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills.
Called Aquaculture 101, the CA$550,000 educational course includes a series of presentations that cover all aspects of the sector.
In addition to the fully immersive, 360-degree virtual farm tours covering finfish and shellfish, there are video based learning modules that also explain the history of the sector, as well as the science and technology employed in ocean farming.
“One of the challenges of educating people about aquaculture is the fact it’s difficult for people to get a first-hand farm experience,” said NAIA executive director Jamie Baker.
“After all, ocean farming is a highly technical, detailed process that is carried out in rural areas, with strict biosecurity protocols in place.
“Aquaculture 101 changes that, using VR technology and resources to give participants a highly detailed, hands-on feel for shellfish and finfish farming in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“As we sustainably grow and develop this sector, we want to make sure the public – especially our young people – clearly understand the farming process and the opportunities and benefits aquaculture bring to the province.
“Aquaculture 101 will be a great way to assist in developing the sector and giving people a true sense for what the hard-working ocean farmers in Newfoundland and Labrador are bringing to the table.”
The course also includes career profiles, and presentations from site managers, veterinarians, and quality assurance staff.
NAIA president Sheldon George, of Cooke Aquaculture, said: “Aquaculture 101 is designed to be a versatile educational tool that can be accessed by people of all ages, but we are largely focused on our young people.
“Students participating in the programme will be able to get a strong understanding of the sector, test what they have learned and even receive a certificate when they have completed the course.
“Hopefully, we will get some of those students thinking about a career in aquaculture in the years ahead.”