The term “aquaculture engineering” is often misunderstood, and for this reason it is felt that a short explanation is appropriate.
Aquaculture engineering is the application of basic engineering principles and procedures to the design and construction of structures and systems for aquaculture.
The primary objective of the aquaculture engineer is optimum system design, taking into account four basic considerations:
Thus the aquaculture engineer is concerned with drawing together the disciplines of biology, management, economics and engineering.
Very often, projects, especially those implemented by governments, are conceived, designed and constructed by a team of individual specialists in each of the above disciplines, with no one specialist having a grasp of overall project objectives. The success of a project thus depends on the ability of the team members to understand each other's requirements and to work together in designing and constructing the optimum system. If this ability does not exist, and the four basic considerations mentioned above are not fully respected, then the project runs the risk of failure.
For this reason, an aquaculture engineer should be a key member of any project design and construction team. Ideally he should firstly be an experienced and qualified aquaculturist with well-developed farm management abilities; secondly he should have a sound knowledge and understanding of engineering principles and practices and be able to communicate detailed design requirements to a team of specialist consulting engineers, who should be aware of the special requirements and problems of aquaculture installations. The aquaculture engineer should work together with the specialist engineering team from project conception through to construction and start-up.
The relatively underdeveloped state of aquaculture in Greece, and in particular a lack of experience in managing the primary candidate species in intensive culture, means that there are very few properly qualified personnel able to advise on the design of aquaculture facilities.
The massive interest currently being shown for aquaculture in Greece, together with the substantial capital grants available for aquaculture, have led to the planning of a large number of projects, often without proper consideration of basic aquaculture engineering principles.
During his visit to project sites in Greece, the consultant witnessed several instances of inadequate project planning and system design, often the result of a breakdown in communication between biologist, farm or fishery manager, and engineer.
Lack of experience and training is widely acknowledged as a major constraint in aquaculture development in Greece. Training should therefore be an essential part of any proposed development plan, and it is strongly recommended that aquaculture engineering be included as a major component of that training at all levels.