Long-running marine fish training offered online for the first time

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By Milthon Lujan

The Philippines – To surmount the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, SEAFDEC/AQD migrated its Marine Fish Hatchery (MarFish) training course online and conducted a first session last 14–29 June 2021.

The MarFish course, since its launching in 1985, was offered yearly by SEAFDEC/AQD as a hands-on training and is one of the best-attended training courses of the Department.

“This training course was offered as an online alternative to our usual hands-on face-to-face marine fish hatchery training course. This is the first time that Marfish is offered using the online learning management platform,” said Training and Information Division Head Dr. Edgar Amar.

In the first session, the course had 21 participants from nine countries. There were six participants from SEAFDEC member countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Japan, the Philippines, and Thailand which were funded by the Government of Japan Trust Fund. There were also participants from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Singapore, and the USA.

“I attended the training to learn the science-based approach and apply it to our aquaculture operations. Traditional knowledge has been the norm in rural areas, while various reference materials can be found on the [internet]. But I prefer to start learning from the experts and academe professionals who devoted their time for the practice and improvements of aquaculture techniques,” said Russel Abad, a professional mine geologist and MarFish trainee from the Philippines, when asked about his reason for joining the training course.

In addition, Sharon Maiseveni, a fisheries officer from Papua New Guinea, said that she attended the course to learn the different technologies used in culturing different marine species knowing that aquaculture is the way forward after the decline of the marine fish population.

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“We find it really useful, especially when we first come across the online course, we thought we would have a lot of readings. But with the videos, it’s very useful, very practical information that really helps and reduce our time in reading. The content of the course is really good,” said Karibanang Tamuera, a trainee from Kiribati.

The 16-day online course used Canvas, a web-based learning management system (LMS), to provide the training experience and deliver learning materials such as videos of lectures and practical activities. The LMS also provided a venue for the training participants to interact with SEAFDEC/AQD resource persons and fellow participants through the discussion board.

The course had six modules with topics on broodstock management, larval rearing, hatchery design, natural food culture, nutrition, health management, pond and cage culture, economic analysis, and biotechnology in aquaculture.

A recapitulation of the first three modules was done halfway through the online course via Zoom, where the participants can interact with the resource persons. Another recapitulation was done for the last three modules at the end of the training course.

“I like the fact that although it was an online course, in many ways, it did not feel so much online because you are right there, you were there to answer the questions in person,” said a participant from the USA who asked to remain anonymous.

During the closing program of the online course on 29 June 2021 held via Zoom, SEAFDEC/AQD Chief Dan Baliao expressed in his message, as read by Dr. Amar, his hopes that the online course attained its objectives in providing the trainees with technical knowledge and skills.

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Chief Baliao also mentioned that he is convinced that distance learning mode can deliver what face-to-face training programs hoped to achieve under the present circumstances of restricted travel and physical distancing.

“For the real knowledge seekers, the medium by which knowledge is obtained becomes secondary. The real challenge is how to apply this new knowledge and skills,” said Chief Baliao in his message.

Source: SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department

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