New aquaculture report identifies SMCC as possible training hub

A new report that evaluates the labor needs of Maine’s growing aquaculture industry has identified Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) as a possible location for a vocational hub to provide training specific to aquaculture.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) on Monday released the Maine Aquaculture Workforce Development Strategy report, which charts a course for Maine to establish a comprehensive workforce training system to meet the needs of the state’s aquaculture industry.

Maine’s aquaculture workforce today exceeds 600 direct employees, plus auxiliary services, further trades, transportation, processing, equipment supply and retail employment related to aquaculture, the report says. The direct workforce is projected to grow to around 880 employees by 2022, and possibly more than 1,000 employees by 2030.

To meet industry needs, the report recommends the creation of three vocational hubs across the state to provide training for the industry: at SMCC in South Portland, the Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, and Washington County Community College in Calais.

“SMCC is well-positioned with our oceanfront location, a highly regarded Marine Science degree program and instructors who are experienced in aquaculture and business,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “We look forward to working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and people in the aquaculture industry to determine how we can best support this growing Maine industry.”

The report was produced by GMRI in partnership with the Maine Aquaculture Association and Educate Maine, with support from FocusMaine. Its findings were based on extensive interviews with Maine aquaculture businesses, including established and prospective land-based operations, marine producers, service providers and supply chain companies.

Maine’s aquaculture industry includes a wide variety of owner-operator shellfish and marine algae farms, mid-sized service providers and largescale finfish production operations. New production models, such as land-based aquaculture systems, will provide yet another growing employment opportunity in the sector, the report says.

For more information, please view the full Maine Aquaculture Workforce Development Strategy report and a Summary Report.