Aqua Objectives

Within 2030, the world needs to produce 70% more food, and we need to do so using less resources and with a minimal environmental footprint. While oceans cover more than two-thirds of the world’s surface, only 2% of the food energy for human consumption comes from the sea. Producing animal protein from aquaculture takes less resources and is friendlier to the climate compared to livestock. Since traditional fisheries are almost fully exploited, increased aquaculture production needs to play a major part in efforts to feed future generations. Globally, fish represent 50% of all consumed protein and levels are anticipated to rise to 65% by 2030, reflecting a growth rate of 6.6% per annum.

Conversely, despite ambitious national targets for growth in the EU, the industry is stagnant. The lack of personnel with the correct skills and qualifications is becoming widely recognized as one of the main obstacles to sustainable growth in the production.

Throughout Europe at farm level, workforce development is heavily reliant on local recruits that have been and still is engaged based on their practical problem-solving skills and capacities. Many of those are inexperienced and unqualified, changing the aquaculture workforce profile. This is typified by Norway, where less than 50% of their salmon husbandry operatives have completed any relevant education (BlueEDU research results). In other salmon producing countries, a small minority hold a National Qualification (NQ), and some lack a NQ delivery system for husbandry operatives.

The mission is to improve the accessibility and quality of work-based learning and start preparíng for ‘harmonisation’ of industry endorsed National Qualifications, thereby promoting learner and skilled labour mobility.

1st step
Develop a common framework of learning outcomes for north European fin-fish cage farming

  1. Protocols for defining knowledge and competence-based Learning Outcomes (LOs) in a form that is compatible with each partner countries national VET system.
  2. LOs at husbandry operative level for cage farming to ensure the transferability of learning resources and assessment consistency between partner countries
  3. European tools to establish processes that facilitate LO/credit transfer across national boundaries within the partners’ national aquaculture NQs.

2nd step
Develop new work-based learning and assessment delivery systems and resources

  1. e-learning resource quality standards that are compatible with partner countries Virtual Learning Environments
  2. Source, evaluate and inventory existing e-learning content, mapped to the common framework of LOs that can be utilised or repurposed.
  3. Targeted e-learning content for key selected subjects, including a system for sharing updates
  4. Continuous assessment processes to support work-based assessment of technical knowledge and competence and transversal skills 

3rd step
Develop national work-based learning delivery partnerships and support teams

  1. Company work-based mentors providing learning and development support to work-based learners
  2. Work-based witness testimony providers to ensure consistency and standardisation of the assessment of practical competence

4th step
Pilot the delivery of aquaculture NQs to work based learners utilising shared resources

  1. Evaluate feedback from VET practitioners, industry and learners on the piloted delivery
  2. Revise pedagogy and update resources according to the pilot evaluation

There is widespread industry support for encouraging staff to obtain aquaculture NQ in Norway ("fagbrev"), Scotland and Iceland. Interestingly, experienced aquaculture VET teachers report (BlueEDU research results) that a significant amount of the staff in the fin-fish farming industry, e.g. early school levers (Scotland) and those who face writing and reading disabilities (Norway), face educational difficulties related to passing the theoretical training that is required in order to receive a NQ in aquaculture. There is a gap between the ambitions of the industry, and the current training methods which do not take into account how many staff that are champions in problem solving, while they at the same time avoid and fears the required theoretical training.


  • Staff that work with production of salmon and trout within the areas: hatcheries, smolt, farming at sea farms and processing plants
  • Teachers at aquaculture VET schools
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use, which may be made of the information contained therein.