Make Waves With an Aquaculture Degree from UNE

Imagine you’re at a job interview for a position in the aquaculture field, and you’re able to say that you’ve not only studied kelp farms but have also helped a kelp farming operation.

This is the edge that UNE’s B.S. in Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture (SEA) gives you. From day one, you will work with aquaculture industry experts and study on a campus with the Atlantic Ocean in its backyard. You will be immersed in four years of hands-on, on-the-water activities that prepare you for exciting jobs in aquaculture. There will never be a dull moment while taking a class from one of our SEA professors!

Our Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture degree program prepares you for the aquaculture industry. You will be armed with the knowledge and unique skills needed to culture organisms in the nearshore coastal environment for food or restoration with special emphasis on sustainability, societal values, needs, and policies.

Study Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture on the Gulf of Maine

Why UNE for a Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Degree

With the ocean just feet from our campus, UNE offers a truly unique experience to Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture degree majors. Benefits of our SEA program include:

  • Gain skills for the aquaculture job market through abundant hands-on experience out on the water
  • Work and learn on our University-operated kelp farm, private island, and partner aquaculture sites
  • Build nautical skills on UNE research vessels
  • Learn at the state-of-the-art Girard Marine Science Center with recirculating aquaculture system
  • Enjoy proximity to Portland’s working waterfront
  • Take advantage of internship opportunities all four years with area industry partners
  • Learn from expert faculty
  • Join a supportive community of students and faculty who share your passion for the ocean
Two students in life vests smile as they sit on a bench of a U N E boat
Headshot of Lydia Pinard

Carrying out research at UNE has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. It really feels like I am making a difference in my field.

Marine Science

What Will You Study? Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Program Curriculum Overview

UNE offers a common set of marine-based courses in the first two years of our marine programs, allowing you to switch easily between marine majors. Once you are settled in the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture major, here are some of the courses you can look forward to:

  • Systems Thinking and World Problems
  • Aquaculture Policy and Management
  • Ocean Aquaculture Design and Operation
  • Marine Operations – Boating and Water Safety
  • Ocean Foods Systems Seminar


CAS Core Requirements Credits
Total 42-46
Required Courses Credits
BIO 221 – Principles of Aquaculture 3
BIO 222/222L – Finfish/Shellfish Culture Tech 4
BIO 223/223L – Hlth, Nurt, Feed Cultured Org 4
BUMG 313 – Social Innov & Entre or BUMK 312 – Entrepreneurship/Sml Business 3
CHE 110/110L – General Chemistry I or CHE 111/111L – General Chemistry II or CHE 130/130L – Principles of Chemistry or CHE 150/150L – University General Chem I or CHE 151/151L – University General Chem II 4
GIS 161 – GIS I: Func/Geospatial Sci/Tech 3
MAF 315 – US Aquaculture Management & Policy 3
MAR 105/105L – Eco/Evo of Marine Organisms 4
MAR 106/106L – Cell/Molec Bio/Marine Orgs 4
MAR 150/150L – Discovering the Ocean Environ or MAR 270/270L – Oceanography 4
MAR 250/250L – Marine Biology 4
MAR 235 – Sustainable Harvest of Marine/Freshwater Resources 3
MAR 315 – Systems Thinking (World Problems) 3
MAR 445 – Social Ecological Aquaculture 3
MAR 495 – Adv Marine Science Internship or MAR 410 – Marine Science Research 4
MAT 150 – Statistics for Life Sciences or MAT 151 – Statistics for Environmental Sciences 3
Six (6) credits of Marine/Environmental Elective courses 6
Total 53+?
Open elective courses (needed to reach 120 credits) Variable
Minimum Required Total Credits 120


Marine/Environmental Elective Course Options Credits
ENV 220 – Conservation and Preservation 3
ENV 220L – Conservation and Preservation Lab 2
ENV 240 – Env Sustainability Lab 2
ENV 250 – Envir Policy Compar Perspect 3
ENV 261 – Gulf of Maine Field Studies I 1.5
ENV 262 – Gulf of Maine Field Studies II 1.5
ENV 309 – Sustainability & Eco Restor 3
ENV 311/311L – Ecological Monitoring 4
ENV 328 – Env Pollution:Wldlife/Hum Hlth 3
ENV 365 – Climate Change Adaptation 3
MAR 350/350L – Marine Ecology 4

Meet Chris, Aquaculture ’22

An aquaculture major interning at an oyster farm in Georgetown, Maine, Chris is learning — hands on — how to raise a sustainable, renewable protein source with the goal of starting his own oyster farm.

Potential Jobs in Aquaculture

UNE students are prepared for careers and graduate school. In fact, 95% of our undergraduates are employed or enrolled in higher education within one year of graduating.

With our Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture degree, you will gain the tools and experience needed to design, manage, and operate:

  • Ocean-based fish pens
  • Kelp aquaculture sites
  • Bivalve sea farms

You will also gain an understanding of ocean-based aquaculture policies and regulations and the management skills needed to run both small and large sea farms. You will graduate from this program with a resume that is sure to land in the “keepers” pile of any employer in the aquaculture industry.

Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture degree majors may explore a wide variety of aquaculture jobs, including:

  • Manager of farm lease applications and permits
  • Sea grant extension agent 
  • Market development specialist
  • International relations specialist
  • Ocean farmer (including oyster, finfish, and kelp farming)

average annual salary of an aquaculture manager in the U.S.


Career Advising in the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Program

Whether you have a specific career goal in mind or a vague idea of the field that interests you, Career Advising is here to help you plan your next step.


UNE offers some of the best research, lab, and classroom facilities in the nation for the study of marine science — including state-of-the-art buildings, a fleet of research vessels, and our own research island — and you can access all of them right from our main campus in Biddeford, Maine.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Marine Science Center

Launch Girard Marine Science Center

Explore All School of Marine and Environmental Programs Facilities

Experiential Learning in the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Program

Student Clubs in Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture

Our student clubs compliment the hands-on learning experiences you will enjoy in the classroom. Organizations include:

  • Aquaponics Club: The Aquaponics Club provides learning and leadership opportunities within the School of Marine Programs’ student-managed aquaponics lab. The club is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of systems within the lab space and for tending to the fish and plants the systems are centered around. Club members receive hands-on experience with the plumbing and infrastructure required for recirculating aquaculture systems, as well as IACUC training on how to properly care for the fish in the system in compliance with federal regulations. The club’s efforts culminate in the display of edible plants at the living wall in the commons and in the Edible Campus Markets held twice a year to augment the UNE Sustainability Office’s Edible Campus Initiative.
  • Aquarium Club: You will have the opportunity to learn and take care of fresh and saltwater tanks and learn about different species of fish and how to look after an aquarium. Select students are chosen by the advisor to help with care and maintenance. 
  • Marine and Environmental Programs Club: Become more involved and familiar with the Marine and Environmental Programs at UNE by connecting with both faculty and other resources. Upperclassman marine and environmental programs students will connect with new/underclassman marine and environmental programs students, meet and connect with professors to learn about research opportunities, learn about internships/job opportunities, build resumes, become familiar with all aspects of the marine and environmental programs, learn more about resources available, such as tutoring, and host events/community service projects related to marine and environmental programs.

Internships in the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Degree Program

The real-world experiences you gain when you’re out on the water with classmates, completing internships with our industry partners, or conducting research with our faculty provide the hands-on skills you need to immediately jump into the ocean-based aquaculture industry after graduation — and thrive.

Nearby Portland, Maine, the epicenter of sea aquaculture in the state, provides numerous internship possibilities. Aquaculture businesses in Maine are undergoing rapid growth, which means more opportunities for our students to intern — building valuable career connections.

Possible internship sites include:

  • Atlantic Sea Farms
  • Bangs Island Mussels/Wild Ocean Aquaculture
  • Eros Oysters
  • Heritage Seaweed
  • Maine Oyster Company
  • Maine State Aquarium
  • Nordic Aquafarms
  • Saco Salmon Restoration Alliance and Hatchery
  • Spinney Creek Shellfish

For more information email the Academic and Career Advising Center at


partner companies and organizations offering real-world experiences to our Marine students

Two marine science students filling a sampling container with ocean water

Sustainable Aquaculture Research Opportunities

UNE provides a breadth of research opportunities not commonly offered to undergraduate students, and you’ll always work with a faculty member. From studying the safety of edible seaweed, to exploring the ecosystem services provided by ocean farming, there’s a research project with your name on it.

In addition to classes and faculty lab positions, UNE students have access to fellowship opportunities from partners such as Bristol Seafood and SEANET, as well as programs like UNE’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

Research Areas

The field of Marine Science is as broad and diverse as the vast oceans that cover most of our planet. At UNE we touch upon all facets of marine science with special focuses in the following areas of research.

Applied Marine Technology

Applied marine technology is a crucial Marine Programs research area that cuts across all others. Robotics, research vessels, remote and autonomous underwater vehicles, environmental monitoring, and modeling are all vital tools that enable modern marine research to occur. Researchers in this area are interested in innovations in and novel applications for marine technology.

Aquatic Animal Life Support Systems Operation

Part of our dedication to experiential learning includes providing opportunities to garner real-world skills that make you sought after in the job market and graduate education institutions. A shining example of this is our association with Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators (AALSO). AALSO is a 501 c6 nonprofit organization that focuses on the education and training of aquatic life support operators around the world. AALSO members are those behind the scenes at research institutions and large public aquariums around the world who design, construct, and maintain large aquatic husbandry systems. AALSO provides professional credentialing and proficiency certifications that carry real weight in the industry. UNE is one of only two academic institutions who have been approved by AALSO to administer these tests to our students. Meaning you can walk out the door with a degree in hand, and a professional industry certification in your back pocket.


Boating and Marine Science Seamanship

Boats, for obvious reasons, are important to marine research. At UNE we are fortunate enough to have a fleet of research and education vessels [ATS1] from 18’ to 32’ that are utilized in our programs. Add to this our faculty and professional staff with professional vessel operation credentials and experience operating and conducting science aboard ships and research vessels all over the world — and UNE Marine programs are well suited to help you gain the important technical knowledge needed to be proficient and safe both operating and conducting research at sea.

Researchers: Tim Arienti


The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. The interconnectivity of life and ecosystems in the sea are incredibly complex, and distinctly linked to both the land and our atmosphere. Such complexity is nearly impossible to understand without the powerful predictive capacities of computer models. These models, based on data collected in the field, from satellites, the geological record, and elsewhere, are used to forecast (and hind-cast) everything from fish populations and food webs to ocean circulation, hurricanes, and climate change.


Robotics and Smart Technology

Ocean robotics and smart technology — in the form of underwater drones, manned submersibles, water quality sensors, oceanographic buoys, and camera systems — is a rapidly growing, and increasingly important marine field. In the age of technology, these tools are becoming vital components in enabling cutting-edge marine research across the board. 


Biology of Marine Organisms

Our Marine Programs faculty and professional staff conduct a wide range of research in the areas of biology and ecology of marine organisms. This research area is very broad and ranges from marine genetics to the migration patterns of large animals like sharks, seals, and whales. From seaweed to sharks — plankton to pinnipeds (seals!) our team covers it all.

Food Web Dynamics

Food web dynamics focuses on how energy moves through organisms in an ecosystem through primary productivity (photosynthesis) and consumers. Researchers in our Marine programs study these interactions to create a “who’s eating who” web of connections between organisms in an ecosystem.

Researchers: Carrie Byron, Ph.D.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are any species introduced to an ecosystem in which they are not native that then go on to cause disruption or harm to the functioning of that ecosystem. Marine organisms are adept at hitching rides in ballast water of ships, through hitchhiking on marine debris, or even through deliberate introduction. Researchers at UNE study these organisms and their ecological interactions and impacts in the Gulf of Maine and beyond.

Researchers: Markus Frederich, Ph.D.

Marine Invertebrates

There are more than 20,000 species of marine and fresh water bony fish on the planet, while mollusks alone (snails, bivalves, etc.) comprise more than 85,000 known species. Of all the expansive biodiversity contained within our oceans, the vast majority is contained within the marine invertebrates. With so much diversity, the opportunities for research in marine invertebrates are almost inexhaustible.



Life in the sea poses challenges unique to oceanic organisms, especially the smallest of those (microorganisms). By virtue of being immersed in water, they are at the mercy of the tides, currents, chemistry, and geology of the sea. Oceanography is the study of these physical properties and processes in the ocean — physical, chemical, and geological. Oceanography researchers at UNE study how these oceanographic components interact with each other and affect life in the sea.


Plankton and Microbes

With few exceptions, marine microbes and plankton form the base of the marine food web. Small but mighty, the plankton are the fuel for life in the sea. Researchers within our Marine programs study many facets of the biology, ecology, and even chemistry of this important and diverse group of organisms.


Sharks and Marine Mammals

The largest organisms in an ecosystem are often sentinels of ecosystem health and serve key roles in the health and balance of our oceans. UNE researchers study the biology and ecology of sharks and marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine and across the globe.


Food from the Ocean

With a global human population headed towards 10 billion by 2050, understanding the interactions between the ocean and what we eat is more important than ever. Our location on the coast of Maine has a deep heritage and connections to the people and communities who have harvested food from the sea, and the ecosystems that provide it. We have robust research and education programs in this focus area including fisheries science and management, ecological aquaculture, marine entrepreneurship, migration of highly migratory species, and food web ecology.

Fisheries Management and Science

Fisheries science and management are both distinct disciplines that are highly interwoven. Fisheries science creates the knowledge and data used in order for fisheries management to make the best possible policies to manage a fishery. The policies and the priorities set forth by management then in turn creates the framework for fisheries science to design and conduct research. At UNE, we have researchers with expertise on both sides of this important coin.

Researchers: Susan Farady

Ornamental Aquaculture

Globally, the saltwater ornamental fish and aquarium industry is valued at $15 billion, resulting in the importation of more than 400 fish species. And yet, only 10% of these fish are cultured. Ornamental aquaculture is the application of aquaculture techniques and protocols to produce fish and other organisms used for decorative purposes. This practice can help greatly reduce pressure on wild fish populations and increase the sustainability of a hobby growing rapidly on a global scale.


Sustainable Seafood and Aquaculture

The global human population is projected to be more than 10 billion people by 2050. That is a lot of mouths to feed. And yet, while the oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, only 2% of food production (including all fisheries and ocean farms) comes from the sea. In the future there will be by necessity, increased pressure on global oceans to produce food. Much of this will come from ocean-farms producing not only fish, but shellfish, seaweeds, and other marine foods. Researchers in our Marine programs study the entire suite of issues pertaining to seafood and aquaculture.


Human Impacts on the Ocean

Evidence of human impact on the ocean is everywhere, not just limited to our coastal oceans. Plastics and chemicals have been documented from the deepest depths of the global seas, while climate change affects all aspects of the ocean. More and more, we cannot separate studying the natural ocean environment apart from human influence. Fisheries, microplastics, policy, pollution, conservation, and restoration all fall into this category. UNE Marine Programs faculty, professional staff, and students are focused on research and solutions across the spectrum of human influence on our seas.

Climate Change

Our climate is changing — rapidly. Its impacts are felt broadly across our planet, especially our oceans, which play crucial roles in mediating, moderating, and shaping the global impacts of accelerating planetary change. This is exemplified in our own backyard, where the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 90% of all other ocean waters. Rather than a discrete area of study, climate change research at UNE Marine Programs is more of an umbrella. One of the most important planetary challenges of our time, climate change research is integrated by necessity into almost all of our Marine Programs research and scholarship areas of focus.


Conservation and Restoration

Not all human impacts on the sea are negative. Human interventions in the forms of conservation and restoration science and policies can produce real and impactful improvement in the marine environment. Ecosystem and habitat restoration, invasive species mitigation and management and ocean advocacy are all part of UNE Marine Programs.


Marine Business and Entrepreneurship

In many ways, the ocean represents a vast resource with the potential for creating economic growth in a sustainable or even restorative fashion. Opportunities here include sustainable fisheries and aquaculture ventures, ocean robotics, sensors and remote sensing, shipping, value-added marine-derived products such as cosmetics and nutraceuticals, even textiles and fashion.

Researchers: Jeri Fox

Marine Pollution

The ocean is downstream of everything and given a long enough period of time, everything ends up in the ocean. Marine pollution impacts our oceans through many pathways and in many forms: excess nutrients and runoff from urban and agricultural lands, bacteria from our wastewater, chemicals from our industries, and plastics from, well, everywhere…are just a few examples. Researchers in our Marine programs look into how the pollutants impact marine organisms and ecosystems, as well as techniques to mitigate and policies to prevent pollution from entering the ocean.


Global Education

In addition to opportunities to spend a semester abroad in Tangier, Morocco or Seville, Spain for the same cost as studying at UNE's Maine campuses, you may choose to enroll in one of our marine sciences-related travel courses. To enroll in these courses and learn more, visit the Global Education Program website.

Interested in studying abroad? Make a plan with your advisor.


BIO 421: Marine Topics: Coral Reef Studies

This course presents an in-depth study of the biology and taxonomy of corals while examining the ecology of the coral reef system and the future of reefs. 



MAR 451: Natural History and Evolution of the Galapagos Fauna

This course is designed to familiarize you with the biota of the Galapagos Islands, island history, ecology, and the behavior and evolution of the islands' animals. 



Semester-Long Study Abroad Program

Spend a semester abroad in Akureyri on the northeast coast of Iceland. You'll be studying in Iceland's second-largest urban area surrounded by mountains and fjords.


 Faculty and students hike Sólheimajökull glacier


BIO 421: Conservation and Ecology of a Caribbean Island

This course covers topics in the history and geology of the Caribbean, including terrestrial, island, and marine biodiversity, plus the ecology and evolution of populations.


UNE North

The Institute for North Atlantic Studies of the University of New England is an education and research leader for Maine connected to the North Atlantic/Arctic region grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and built to support local to global collaborative approaches to shared challenges and opportunities.


Apply Today

Ready to begin your future in UNE’s Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture program?