As Part of Federal Grant, Gulf of Maine Research Institute to Establish Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program Bookmark and Share

January 10, 2022

For Immediate Release: January 10, 2022

As Part of Federal Grant, Gulf of Maine Research Institute to Establish Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program

AUGUSTA - As part of a $500,000 grant awarded from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to establish a comprehensive aquaculture workforce training system, GMRI will develop and pilot an Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program with assistance from the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL).

"Employers are recognizing how Registered Apprenticeship can be a powerful workforce development tool," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. "The GMRI apprenticeship program will be instrumental in creating an aquaculture workforce training system. It will largely be focused in rural Maine such as Knox and Washington Counties, which were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited that the programming being developed will also have the potential to be expanded to other community colleges in Maine and throughout the Northeast."

The Maine Apprenticeship Program assists in setting up structured yet flexible training programs designed to meet the specific needs of Maine employers through on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction. Apprentices earn while they learn their new skills, and employers have a hand in training their workforce. Ninety-four percent of apprentices continue their employment after completing their apprenticeship program.

"Aquaculture represents a significant career opportunity for Mainers. Anyone with a strong work ethic and interest in making a living on the water will soon have access to affordable and convenient training opportunities around the state", Gulf of Maine Research Institutes Chief Community Officer, Jonathan Labaree, said. "GMRI is honored to be working with Southern Maine Community College, Maine Aquaculture Association, EducateMaine, and the Department of Labor to build training and apprenticeship pathways for people to build a life-long and rewarding career in Maines growing aquaculture industry."

The funding will: - Help GMRI develop and pilot a Maine Department of Labor Aquaculture Apprenticeship Program where participants will gain valuable experience, receive mentoring, get trained and tested on defined occupational competencies, and learn to use cutting-edge technology at Maine's most sophisticated commercial shellfish and sea vegetable farms. - Develop and administer a series of stackable, credentialed, aquaculture short courses at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) that form the basis of an Aquaculture Certificate. - Update the Maine Aquaculture Occupational Standards for Shellfish and Sea Vegetables, Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, and Marine Finfish to ensure that aquaculture workforce training remains relevant to Maine's rapidly evolving and growing industry. - Coordinate program development and delivery between SMCC, Washington County Community College, The Mid-Coast School of Technology (K-9 Career Technical Education High School), and MDOL Apprenticeship to establish matriculation pathways and dual-credit programs that enable fast-tracked degree completion.

Within each occupation, there will be three levels of apprenticeship standards created:

  1. Farm Hand
  2. Crew Chief
  3. Manager in both Marine and Land based operations

In addition to the seafood specific occupations, other trades people in high wage, in-demand jobs will be employed to build and maintain the fish farms such as HVAC, Plumbers/Pipefitters, Electricians, and Maintenance Technicians.

More information from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute can be found here:

A press release from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree can be found here:

For information about the Maine Apprenticeship Program, visit: