Aquaculture -Marine

Course CodeBAG220
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Marine Aquaculture Online

Study Salt Water Aquaculture

This course -

  • Deals with the farming of salt water species of fish, shellfish, seaweed and other marine products
  • Learn to plan and manage the farming of a wide variety of marine life
  • Self paced study, expert tutors, start any time, 100 hours of learning to give you a sound foundation in marine aquaculture.

The FAO defines mariculture as -

“The culture of marine organisms, both plants and animals, in an aquatic medium or environment which may be completely marine (sea), or sea water mixed to various degrees with fresh water. This definition would include both the sea and inland brackish-water areas. These can be freshwater or salt water organisms, or have development phases in both types of waters.”


Any business needs to be based on careful financial considerations. Consider; how much money is needed to be started, what will be the return and how long will it take to break even, what are the annual operating costs, etc.  The economics of production can be very variable depending on the species to be farmed, the land and environment where it is to be developed, labour and materials costs, and other business running costs (administration, taxes, etc).

Mariculture is a complicated business and anyone who intends entering it should undertake extensive research on the topic. It requires a large investment of time and money over a period of years. By conducting a feasibility study before starting a farming venture, you can determine how much it will cost to operate a farm and if the right conditions for growing a particular species are available.

Given the high start-up costs, most successful mariculture operations target high-value fish, such as ornamental fish, as well as food fish, such as red snapper, salmon, and eels. Shellfish mariculture has a broader product range including clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, and crabs. Algae are often produced with finfish or shellfish to provide a food source for the primary product.

A major cause of failure in any aquaculture or mariculture operation is poor marketing. In mariculture, farmers are competing with wild-caught commercial species. This can be beneficial, given wild stocks are declining and seasonal availability can produce supply shortages that a producer can fill if he or she can arrange harvests for the times of shortages. However, if wild catches are plentiful, the producer may not be able to sell the product at a price that covers costs.

Since supplies from capture fisheries are unlikely to increase in the coming decades and the world population is currently over six billion and growing, aquaculture producers will have a significant role in producing much needed animal protein to feed future generations. Due to freshwater scarcity in many areas of the world, mariculture is expected to be the future of aquaculture. Where this occurs will depend upon:

  • the availability of natural resources to support production,
  • availability of seed stock
  • access to feeds and production technology (processing facilities)
  • access to equipment and supplies such as boats, farm platforms, SCUBA gear etc
  • access to markets
  • access to health management, consultants, and technical services (i.e. grafting technicians for oysters) services
  • a supportive regulatory environment, and
  • public acceptance of the environmental impacts that inevitably accompany any food-producing endeavour.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Aquaculture Production Systems
    • What is mariculture?
    • Purposes of mariculture
    • Classification of culture systems
    • Extensive production (Ep)
    • Intensive production (Ip)
    • Classifications based on system input
    • Open systems (off-shore and near-shore)
    • Semi-closed systems
    • Closed systems (on shore)
    • Common culture method for each marine category
    • Cage culture
    • Cage design: Floating flexible, floating rigid, semi-submersible and submersible
    • Hanging Culture: Raft and suspended trays
    • Long-line culture
    • Vertical or rack culture
    • Bottom culture: Bottom sowing and cultch lines
    • Stone, stake culture, net and umbrella culture
    • Semi-enclosed: flow through tanks
    • Closed Systems (CAS): Recirculating, raceways, and inland ponds
  2. Starting a Marine Aquaculture (Mariculture) Business
    • Economics of establishing and running a farm
    • The need for a feasibility study
    • Economic analysis
    • Requisites for establishing a business
    • Factors to consider
    • Industry competition
    • Availability of leased and quotas
    • Economy of scale
    • Site selection and water quality
    • Properties of salt water
    • Water quality management
    • Environmental impacts.
    • Food chain problems
    • Using wild broodstock
    • Nutrient pollution
    • Chemical pollution
    • Spreading pathogens
    • Escapes
    • Habitat effects
    • Managing environmental impacts
    • Improving the genetic quality of fish
    • Biotechnology
  3. Choosing a Species
    • Choosing a marketable species
    • What information is available?
    • Understand your competition before selecting a species
    • Common mariculture species
    • Selection criteria
    • Climate
    • Water resource
    • Finance
    • Scale of operation
    • Market demand and access
    • Availability of animals
    • Risk considerations
    • Product markets
    • Product, price and promotion
  4. Finfish
    • Industry overview
    • Types of mariculture
    • Broodstock/seed supply
    • Growout
    • Commonly cultured species
    • Tuna
    • Atlantic salmon
    • Steelhead Salmon (Saltwater rainbow trout)
    • Yellowtail (Japanese Amberjack)
    • Sea Bass
    • Gilt-head sea bream
    • Water quality management
  5. Crustaceans
    • Industry overview
    • Types of mariculture
    • Broodstock/seed supply
    • Growout
    • Commonly cultivated species
    • Penaeid shrimp (prawn)
    • Graspid Crabs
    • Lobster
  6. Molluscs and Echinoderms
    • Industry overview - molluscs
    • Types of bivalve culture
    • Broodstock/seed supply
    • Growout
    • Abalone
    • Oysters
    • Cultured mussels
    • Scallops
    • Giant clams
    • Industry overview - echinoderms
    • Types of mariculture
    • Broodstock/seed supply
    • Growout
    • Commonly cultivated species
    • Sea Urchins
    • Sea cucumbers
  7. Seaweeds and Aquatic Algae
    • Industry overview
    • Types of mariculture
    • Broodstock/seed supply
    • Land-based cultivation systems
    • Tanks
    • Ponds
    • Sea cultivation
    • Farming methods
    • Vegetative cultivation
    • Cultivation involving a reproductive cycle
    • Commonly cultivated species
    • Laminaria japonica
    • Porphyra sp.
    • Undaria sp.
    • Eucheuma seaweed
  8. Pharmaceuticals
    • Pharmaceutical value of marine organisms
    • Examples of species used in marine biotechnology
    • Sea urchin
    • Sea cucumber
    • Marine sponges
    • Seaweeds (algae)
  9. Diet Formulation and feeding
    • Feeding strategies
    • Nil input
    • Water fertilisation
    • Supplementary feeding
    • Complete diet feeding
    • Fish feed
    • Feeding and feed components
    • Environmental problems associated with fish feeding
    • Mycotoxins in feeds
    • Aflatoxins
    • Ochratoxins
    • Fumonisins
    • Trichothecenes
    • Managing mycotoxins in prepared feeds
  10. Health Management – Diseases and Parasites
    • Causes of disease
    • Health management and mitigation strategies
    • Treatment of diseases and parasites
    • General principles
    • Common signs that fish are unhealthy
    • Common diseases of fin fish
    • Emerging pathogens
    • Common diseases of crustaceans
    • Common diseases of bivalves (molluscs)
  11. Harvest and Post Harvest Handling
    • Examples of product forms
    • Harvest/post harvest handling of selected species


  • Explain general mariculture production systems
  • Discuss the factors involved in setting up a business
  • Evaluate factors that need to be considered when choosing marine species for aquaculture in your region.
  • Explain the commercial production of finfish
  • Explain the commercial production of crustaceans
  • Explain the commercial production of molluscs
  • Explain the use and production of Seaweeds and Aquatic Algae
  • Discuss the role of echinoderms in mariculture. Explore the pharmaceutical uses of marine organisms
  • Explain general diet formulation and feeding
  • Describe issues related to the health management of marine animals used in aquaculture.


Learning to produce something through mariculture is one thing; but being able to turn that into a profitable and sustainable business involves management and marketing success.

The species you choose must have an available market. Potential producers must consider their markets when looking to choose the best species for their area. 

Product, price, promotion, and place; the classical points in traditional marketing, also apply to marketing mariculture culture products. Serious planning and research needs to be conducted on each of these points in order to ensure the species you choose have a viable market.


The product refers to the degree of processing undergone by the fish, shellfish or other marine species. Presentation of the final product is very important – whether you intend doing your own processing or selling to a processor – you will need to have an understanding of what is available to consumers. 

Market size and product “form” (i.e. fresh or processed, type of portion etc.) are important aspects of a mariculture culture product. Different customers often have different ideas on what the best size or form is. Market size varies according to consumer preferences. 

Each successive step in fish processing results in different product forms. These are discussed in the last lesson on post-harvest handling

Regardless of the product form you choose to offer, it is very important to establish and maintain a reputation as a reliable supplier. Be sure to gain an accurate understanding of each customer’s needs regarding both volume and frequency of purchases before you deliver the first fish.

Due to the seasonal nature of mariculture production, and depending on your scale of operation, product supply and reliability can be a major problem for new or small-scale producers. 

One approach you could explore in order to overcome this problem is to join with other producers in forming a marketing cooperative.


How much should you charge for your product? Real-life implementation of this seemingly simple calculation is not all that easy. Pricing a product is an agonizing, lengthy decision, and will likely need periodic adjustments to reflect new market realities.

When you come to the point of thinking about price take into consideration factors such as:

  • How are you going to position your product in the food fish market? Is it an economy or luxury item?
  • Who are your customers? Are they individual consumers, up-scale restaurants, food wholesalers etc.
  • What species and prices are competitors offering?
  • What quality perceptions are associated with your chosen species, location or production system?

Cost-plus pricing - simply adds a constant percentage of profit above the cost of producing a product. The problem with cost-plus pricing is that it is difficult to accurately assess fixed and variable costs. This pricing system works fine in the absence of strong competition.

Competitive pricing - the most common form of pricing. In this system, producers gather market information on the prices and quantities of competing products and then price their products accordingly.

Skimming - involves the introduction of a product at a relatively higher price for more affluent, quality-conscious customers. Then, as the market becomes saturated, the price is gradually lowered.

Discount pricing - offers customers a Discount pricing offers customers a reduction from advertised prices for specific reasons. For example, a fish farm advertises on a local TV station that prices will be 10% percent cheaper if they shop online.

Loss-leader pricing - is the offering of a portion of the product at a reduced price for a limited time. The goal is to attract more customers to the producer’s place of business so that they might also buy non-discounted products as well. This pricing method is seen in farmers markets and supermarkets to introduce a new product or to create consumer.

Psychological pricing - involves establishing prices that look better or convey a certain message to the purchasers. For example, instead of charging $4.00/kilo the producer charges $3.99/kilo. This strategy makes the product appear to be more of a bargain. 

Perceived-value pricing – involves positioning and promoting a product on non-price factors.  For example: quality, Health giving benefits (clean water, no contaminants, organic), prestige and other factors.


Producers promote their products to create customers. The best way to attract new customers is to provide a high-quality product and to develop excellent promotion strategies. Regardless of the advertising method chosen, the producer should spend a portion of time promoting the product(s). 

There are two general methods of promoting mariculture products: generic (i.e. broad-scale advertising of your chosen species carried out by the relevant association) and personal (i.e. specifically targeted to your product). The form of promotion you choose as a new producer will depend on the scale of your operation, available resources, availability of your product, and geographic location of your farm. 

In addition to public advertising, you should consider some on-site product promotion, both visual and verbal. This should accent the non-price attributes of your product which will convince the consumer to be a repeat customer.


There are many places and many markets for farmers to sell their food fish products directly, both at the retail and wholesale levels. 

A number of considerations must be taken into account when deciding what type of market and specific business or locations to market your fish (e.g., species, form, location, ability to process). 

Farmers may sell their product directly to the consumer (retailing) or to other businesses which then sell to the consumer (wholesaling). 

The promotional principles discussed earlier usually apply to retailing directly to the consumer since most establishments where you may wholesale have their own forms of promotions.

  •  Direct Retail Sales are a good place to start if supplies are small or availability uncertain. Farm-gate sales are appropriate if the farm is located within a short distance from urban areas or for customers who enjoy a drive into the country. Farmers Markets are another popular option.

  •  Direct Wholesaling your fish to other wholesalers (i.e. wholesale grocery stores) or retailers (i.e. restaurants) may be an excellent route to market your fish depending on the species and your supply situation. 

It would probably be worth your time to set up an appointment with the managers of restaurants, grocery stores, and food wholesalers within a reasonable radius of your intended production site. 

Why Study This Course?

This course will provide you with -
  • A detailed understanding of mariculture
  • An improved capacity and understanding of marine aquaculture
  • Useful skills to work as a farmer or farm employee
  • The skills and knowledge to set up your own business
  • Improve your job and career prospects

If you would like to work and develop within the mariculture industry, then this is the course for you.

If you have any questions at all, please do ask.

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