Aquaculture Farmer Kaiahumoana

Aquaculture farmers manage the breeding, raising and harvesting of fish and shellfish for commercial purposes in marine or freshwater farms.

Aquaculture farmers may do some or all of the following:

  • tighten, clean and mend lines, ropes, racks and nets on aquaculture farms
  • feed and care for growing fish and shellfish
  • harvest and pack fish or shellfish
  • dive to clear any debris or dead fish from fish pens
  • drive and navigate boats
  • operate underwater net cleaning machines and remote operated vehicles (ROVs)
  • maintain marine farm equipment
  • plan work schedules and prepare budgets
  • keep records on growth and health of fish or shellfish
  • train, supervise, manage and assess staff.

Physical Requirements

Aquaculture farmers need to be reasonably fit and strong as the job can involve heavy lifting. They also need to be comfortable working on water.

Aquaculture farmers who work as skippers should also have normal colour vision to meet Maritime New Zealand requirements.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for aquaculture farmers includes:

  • fishing, farming and horticulture work
  • shellfish processing
  • work with or on boats
  • diving
  • work outdoors.

Personal Qualities

Aquaculture farmers need to be:

  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well independently or in a team
  • good communicators
  • reliable
  • well organised.


Aquaculture farmers need to have:

  • knowledge of how to grow and harvest fish or shellfish
  • practical skills such as being able to tie knots and connect ropes
  • boat-handling and navigational skills, including the ability to read charts and use a compass
  • basic mechanical skills
  • ability to maintain equipment on farms including repairing broken lines
  • awareness of health and safety practices.

Diving skills are also recommended.


Aquaculture farmers:

  • often work more than 40 hours a week, and may work weekends
  • usually work a set number of days, then have the same number of days off
  • work in rural areas, coastal and open waters, or holding ponds and tanks
  • sometimes work in challenging weather conditions.

Aquaculture Farmers can earn around $47K-$65K per year.

Pay for aquaculture farmers varies depending on skills, experience and the type of work they do.

  • Aquaculture farmers with one to three years' experience usually earn between $47,000 and $65,000 a year.
  • Aquaculture farmers with more than three years' experience, or in supervisory roles, can earn between $59,000 and $88,000.

Source: Aquaculture New Zealand, 2021.

Aquaculture farmers may progress to work as managers or supervisors. 

With further training, they may also progress to become fishing skippers.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become an aquaculture farmer. However, an aquaculture qualification, such as a New Zealand Certificate in Aquaculture (Level 3 or 4), may be useful.

Managers or supervisors working on boats need to have a skipper restricted limits (SRL) certificate (Maritime New Zealand's licence to operate as a captain/skipper).

A diving qualification may also be required on some farms.

Aquaculture Farmer