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Oceans Resources Technology – Fisheries and Aquaculture

Develop knowledge and skills with a focus on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices to prepare for careers in the seafood industry and oceans resources management.

A fishing boat sits alongside a duo of circular fishing nets.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year

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Seafood harvesting and production remains a key economic driver for rural coastal communities.

This program provides you with a solid grounding in fisheries science, fishing practices, fish biology and disease control, economics of the fisheries, seafood processing, sustainable harvesting, fish husbandry and disease control, quality control, waste management in fishing production, eco-certification requirements and food science.

You gain a sound understanding of scientific and business challenges and trends for the seafood harvesting, seafood processing and aquaculture sector.

Work experience

  • Work placement is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
    • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work placements are your responsibility.
  • For more information visit Work Experience Opportunities.

Study options

  • This program is delivered through blended learning (a combination of in-class and online (scheduled) courses).
    • In-class courses are held on Fridays at Shelburne Campus, leaving the rest of the week to attend online (scheduled) classes off campus.

Choose NSCC

  • Faculty are experienced in both theory and field work and have developed professional relationships with employers and industry.
  • You learn the latest practices and technologies that employers require. The program is designed with the input of industry leaders to ensure you get current and relevant skills.
  • You experience practical hands-on learning.
  • This program places a high importance on providing you with skills and knowledge to work safely in industry. To prepare for employment, you participate in safety awareness courses.

Other info

  • Some travel is required and varies, based on your specific program plan. Additional costs include meals and accommodation.
  • Many employers in this industry require a current, official criminal record check as part of the hiring process. A conviction on your criminal record may impact your ability to secure employment.

2022-23 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2022

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Shelburne Campus/Online Shelburne Full time Blended BlendedDelivered through a combination of in-person and scheduled online classes. Seats available

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent.
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View details

Program requirements

  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.
  • At the end of your program, you complete an applied entrepreneurship or Capstone project and develop knowledge and skill to address critical issues and future opportunities in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.


2022-23 tuition will be announced in the late Spring once approved by the government of Nova Scotia. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. Amounts below were for the 2021-22 academic year.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for college services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates find employment opportunities in: seafood harvesting and processing facilities, government fisheries departments, fishing industry associations, tourism industry and regulatory organizations.

Future study options

  • Continue your studies at university – This program includes courses that count towards a university degree. Find out more

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you can apply to earn credit. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

ORFA 1000 - Introduction to the Seafood Industry
Learners will be given an overview of the different sectors of the fishing and aquaculture industries in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. They will be given information on the global seafood industry, how Canada fits in and how Nova Scotia contributes. The relative sizes of the wild and farmed seafood production will be noted and learners will be provided with information on how these sectors have changed over the past few decades. This information will lead into a description of the Fisheries and Aquaculture program, the material they will be exposed to and how that material will prepare them for work in the various sectors of the Atlantic seafood industry.

ORFA 1001 - Safety I - Industry
Learners will be provided general training to address safety and proper procedures in the classroom, labs and workplace. Included in the training will be WHIMIS, lab/shop safety. Learners will be provided general training to address safety and proper procedures in the classroom, labs and workplace. Included in the training will be WHIMIS, lab/shop safety and respectful workplace practices. Training will then be offered to gain knowledge and skills needed to work in the marine environment. This training will include Marine Emergency Duty (MED A2) and Marine Basic First Aid (MBFA). MED training will provide safety education to enable learners to go to sea and work on or observe operations on commercial fishing and aquaculture vessels. The MED course provides all seafarers with the basic understanding of the hazards associated with the marine environment and fishing vessels. MED will also address the prevention of shipboard incidents, including fire, and procedures for vessel abandonment. It provides seafarers with the knowledge necessary to react to alarms and to deal with emergencies. The training will ensure that all seafarers are able to provide assistance in fire and abandonment in emergency situations. It will provide seafarers with the knowledge and skills which will enable them to assist in their own survival and rescue. This training adheres to Transport Canada training standards.

ORFA 1002 - The Seafood industry – History, Management and Future Trends
Learners will learn about the seafood industry in Atlantic Canada – its history, how it is managed, current trends and future outlooks. The harvesting, processing and aquaculture sectors will be explored, with a focus on how the different industry components evolved and continue to evolve. The regulatory responsibilities will be studied leading to an understanding of which government bodies do what to manage the industry. Learners will study the major changes that have occurred over time that have resulted in our modern industries with their access policies, regulatory regimes and management practices.

ORFA 1003 - Marine Biology I – Basics in Marine Biology
Atlantic Canada is located on the western side of the North Atlantic and is influenced by a number of climatic and physical forces that dictate the marine habitat and species mix. In this class, learners will acquire a basic knowledge about the oceanographic principles that lead to the productivity, tropic level composition and biological cycles within the local marine food chain. Students will learn about the various marine fishes and invertebrates that support the commercial fish and aquaculture industries. An overview of all commercially important species will be provided, and the biology and life cycles of the key species that are targeted by the commercial fisheries and aquaculture industries of Atlantic Canada will be explored in detail. Learners will study the habitat needs, nutritional needs, life stages, growth rates and reproductive strategies of the representative species.

ORFA 1004 - Aquaculture I – The Aquaculture Industry and Fish Husbandry
Students will learn about the aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada. The major finfish and shellfish species will be covered. Both land-based and marine applications will be reviewed. Learners will explore the issues faced by the aquaculture industry and the opportunities the industry presents for sustained economic growth in coastal Atlantic Canada. Students will learn about the various research facilities that have been involved in the development of aquaculture and the work that they have dome. The habitat needs and growing conditions for shellfish and finfish will be studied so students will understand the water quality/habitat requirements and how to monitor/test for them. Environmental monitoring plans and techniques for marine sites will be studied. The developments over time in the field of diet formulation and feed conversion rates will be explored. The major biological risks for fish farms (diseases, sea lice, gear/line fowling) will be reviewed and students will be instructed on the approaches used by fish farm workers to monitor for these risks. Students will learn about biosecurity and the precautions that must be taken to minimize the risk of disease or organism transfer from one farm to another.

ORFA 1005 - Seafood Processing I
Students will learn about the history of seafood processing in Nova Scotia, and how it has changed over time as the various species sectors increased or declined. From early salting and drying of fish to the massive plants that processed frozen fish blocks, learners will explore about how the groundfish processing sector evolved after World War II , grew after the declaration of Canada’s 200 mile limit in 1977, and attempted to survive through the groundfish collapse of the early 1990s. Learners will learn about the development of the snow crab processing sector after major increases in the resource were experienced in the 1990s. Learners will also investigate the other processing sectors including herring, lobster, clams and those that target aquaculture products. In addition to resource fluctuations, the processing industry has experienced a number of challenges in recent years including labour shortages as populations decline in coastal communities, competition from developing economies like China, aging infrastructure and overcapacity. Learners will explore these challenges as well as the future outlook for fish processing in the region in the face of stiff global competition and increasing demands for traceability and eco-certification. Students will learn about the technical aspects of the fish processing industry. They will gain knowledge of the equipment used in processing plants in the region as well as the processing techniques that are used for the various fish species. Plant cleaning and water use will be covered. Learners will explore how food safety concerns and principles are applied to the regulation of plant equipment and operations. The CFIA plant inspection procedures and rules (schedules I & II) will be covered, as well as requirements for plants exporting to the USA.

ORFA 1006 - Business I - Introduction the Seafood Business Environment
Whether on their own boat, in a processing plant, on a fish farm or anywhere along the seafood value chain, fisheries workers are working within the seafood business. In this course, learners will get an introduction to the fundamental business information they will need to know when working in a small, medium or large fisheries enterprise. The topics will include running a small business, tax law, business costs, accounting/bookkeeping, workforce availability, laws and regulations governing workforce availability (EI, temporary foreign workers), business costs and a look at where the seafood money goes from harvester through to final retailer. This course will focus on small and medium businesses, but it will also touch on business realities for the large corporate sector. This is a nontechnical introduction to the field of economics that uses current issues and problems to explore how economics issues affect businesses and individuals. Key macroeconomic issues such as monetary policy, supply and demand, and inflation are also introduced. Students will study global seafood markets to learn about traditional markets for Canadian products as well as growth areas that show potential. The major international seafood trade shows will be highlighted. Existing and developing international trade deals will be investigated.

ORFA 1007 - Safety II - Seamanship
This course will enable learners to learn basic seamanship and radio operation skills to be able to operate inshore fishing vessels in near-shore waters. Learners will complete a Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP) training program that will provide them with a basic understanding of the hazards associated with the marine environment, and the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate a small non-pleasure vessel in near coastal and sheltered waters under normal operating conditions, including darkness and restricted visibility. Learners will also complete the Restricted Operator Certificate – Marine Commercial (ROC-MC) which will train and certify them to operate a marine radio on commercial vessels in Canadian waters as well as within other locations within the North American A1 sea area. In addition to training in the use of marine radios, learners will learn about the use of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

ORFA 1008 - Seamanship Skills and Gear
In this course, learners will acquire basic seamanship skills including working with rope, wire and twine. They will learn about the various gear types used in the Atlantic Fisheries (traps, long lines, mobile gear, gillnets, etc.), how they work and how to build/repair them.

ORFA 1009 - Seafood Quality I - Food Safety
In this course, students will learn about the causes of food spoilage and the practices which will keep fish fresh and safe for the consumer. The role of bacteria, enzymes and toxins will be explored. Factors that impact food spoilage, such as temperature, hygiene and moisture will be addressed. The role of CFIA in fish quality and safety will be covered throughout this course. This course will focus on handling and other practices that will help to maintain the quality of fish and seafood products from point of harvest to the marketplace. Procedures on board vessels, at buyers stations, during land transportation and in plants will be explored. Learners will review existing and developing grading options that may be used to sort fish and fish products by size, quality or other factors. Quality may be measured by fish/product size, appearance, texture, freshness, odour, flavour, blemishes or other characteristics. Different markets will have different standards, and different quality levels tend to lead to different prices in the market place. Learners will review these quality characteristics, how they can be influenced by handling practices and review practical approaches to address quality in our major fisheries. Options for international seafood quality certifications for wild and aquaculture products will be examined.

ORFA 1010 - Essential Workplace Communication Skills
This course introduces learners to the writing, oral presentation, critical thinking and interpersonal communications skills required of technical professionals in the workplace. The fundamentals of clear, concise writing and presenting will be reviewed and refined. Experience will be gained in organizing, writing and presenting technical information. In addition, career development skills and portfolio preparation will be discussed. There will be several opportunities, through assignments and lab work, to develop portfolio components. Learners will learn how to collect appropriate work samples and documentation from other courses in the program as well as from other sources.

ORFA 1100 - Applied Learning I
This course is an applied learning experience which may consist of work experience, directed studies, industry projects or applied research and usually takes place in the final five weeks of the first academic year. This course provides learners with an opportunity to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired in the first year of study through a work experience, industry project, directed study, or applied research. Learners are expected to be contributing members of work teams.

ORFA 2004 - Socio-economic Policies and Industry Organization
In this course the learners will explore the many different socio-economic policies at play in the Atlantic Canadian fisheries. These policies impact everything from who can get access to the resource to who can fish it once an individual or business gains access. Policies can be different for different fisheries sectors and gear classes. Some of the policies have a clear economic objective while others have more of a social and public policy objective. There are varying viewpoints on who should have access to or own Canadian fisheries resources. To understand these viewpoints, learners must understand the policies, the reasons behind them and who supports them. For the various fisheries, there are many industry organizations that represent the harvesting sector, the processing sector and in some cases, combined harvesting, buying and processing sectors. Many components of the fishing industry are not represented by any formal organization. Aquaculture Associations will also be covered. Learners will learn about the organizations, who they represent, their objectives and where applicable, how they are regulated. *Learners will attend meetings of various associations (harvesting, processing, aquaculture) to observe how business is conducted and what issues are addressed.

ORFA 2007 - Professional Development
This course covers the skills and knowledge that learners will require in order to seek out, prepare necessary documentation and compete for employment opportunities. It will also provide an overview of the ethical and legal issues that they may encounter in their careers.

ORFA 2015 - Applied Research Skills
Learners in this course develop and apply research skills in response to a real-world problem. Some learners will work with a research partner to support an existing applied research project. Others will perform initial research to report on the scope and viability of their own proposed project. In both cases, learners will use applied research techniques developed in the classroom along with their learning from other areas of the program. They are expected to perform work at the research assistant level. Learners must identify their own research opportunity. They will then submit this to their instructor for approval. Learners will follow NSCC’s Research Ethics and Research Integrity policies. They will also collaborate with others in the research community as needed.

ORFA 2100 - Applied Learning II
The work experience component provides the learner with an opportunity to apply new skills and concepts appropriate for entry-level positions within the occupation. Learners will assess their own performance and be evaluated by an industry partner. Learners will identify personal outcomes they wish to attain during the work experience and will keep a journal.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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