Shepparton fish farming course will help Indigenous students work on Country | Ralph-Lauren

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A new fish farming course is creating a pathway for more people to pursue careers in aquaculture, with strong interest from First Nations students who want work on Country and look after waterways and native fish.

fish eggs in round containers
Students will learn at the VFA’s fish hatcheries at Snobs Creek near Eildon and at their new site at Arcadia.(

Supplied: Wytasie Walker


The Certificate Level 3 agriculture course is being offered at GOTAFE’s Shepparton campus in partnership with the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA).

The 12-month course will feature four fish farming electives, which will be taught at the VFA’s Snobs Creek fish hatchery near Eildon and at a new Arcadia hatchery being built near Shepparton.

The course will focus on practical skills including fish feeding, breeding and harvesting, and releasing fish into the wild. 

GOTAFE’s services and natural environment director, Darren Payne, said there was a strong need for the course with the growth of the industry in the region.

“They [VFA] need people to move into that field and with the Arcadia site, they obviously need to recruit in the next couple of years to build up the number of staff to be able to meet the needs of breeding the fish,” he said.

VFA native fish project director Anthony Forster, said fishing farming was a booming industry.

“Despite the growth in aquaculture there are not a lot of applied courses available in Australia,” Mr Forster said.

So far, 20 students from across Victoria have enrolled in the course, with about half coming from First Nation communities.

Mr Forster expects that number to grow.

“We suspect as the course develops and grows, we’ll have increasing interest from Indigenous communities … because some have already approached us about getting involved in fish farming,” he said.

Working to protect Country

Yorta Yorta Gunditjmara Gungarri woman Wytasie Walker moved back to Victoria from Darwin to take up the course.

She is passionate about working on Country and is excited to be able to turn her passion into a career.

A woman holding a crayfish
Wytasie Walker says she is passionate about working on Country and protecting local waterways and native fish.(

Supplied: Wytasie Walker


Ms Walker said she wanted to work in fish farming after watching her father work in a similar industry and starting up Victoria’s first Indigenous fishing club, Burnanga Indigenous Fishing Club.

Ms Walker said she wanted to combine the cultural knowledge she had gained with the learnings from the course and inspire the next generation of fish farmers.

“I hope to teach other young Indigenous people in the community about the traditional knowledge of our native fish, and also for generations to come.”

people gathered in front of a bus
An introduction day for the new course was held in July with students shown around VFA’s fish hatcheries.(

Supplied: Victorian Fisheries Authority


Arcadia hatchery on track

Students who complete the course will have the chance to apply for two placements at the Arcadia Fish Hatchery.

Mr Payne said it was a great opportunity for the students.

A aerial shot of a property under construction
The $7 million Arcadia Fish Hatchery being built near Shepparton wil have 32 ponds to help breed native fish to return to the state’s waterways.(

Supplied: Victorian Fisheries Authority


Construction on the $7 million hatchery is expected to be completed in November.

Once underway, the hatchery will produce 1.6 million native fish each year, including Murray cod and golden perch, and over time the VFA hopes to expand this to include more species.

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