PhD position available

The future of aquaculture: how will fish cope with an offshore life?
A terrific new opportunity for a budding marine researcher in the field of sustainable aquaculture.
A PhD project (with $40000 per year scholarship) is available to investigate the behaviour and welfare of farmed salmon in offshore and exposed locations. The project is a collaboration between the Sustainable Aquaculture Lab at the University of Melbourne and the Institute of Marine Research, Norway, through a major new international project. The student will be based in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, while experimental work will occur at the Institute of Marine Research’s state-of-the-art aquaculture research facility near Bergen, Norway, and in the field at commercial farms around the scenic fjords of western Norway.
There is much debate about the salmon industry’s footprint in coastal waters. Part of the debate has revolved around whether farms should move to more exposed or offshore locations, where many of the problematic interactions with coastal environments and communities might diminish. A myriad of new fish farming concepts are now being proposed and implemented to tackle this challenge, including the recent launch of the world’s largest fish farm. Offshore and exposed production system types have design aspects that alter the environmental conditions and behavioural context for fish relative to standard farms. Understanding these new production environments and their challenges for fish is key to success. Existing evidence suggests that several parameters critical for production will differ to normal inshore farms. Of relevance to offshore environments are high waves and currents; the project will custom-build a wave tank to study the behaviour of fish in wavy, turbulent conditions.
The PhD project will develop knowledge of the behaviour and welfare of salmon in new offshore production systems. We will use a range of equipment to study fish farming environments and fish behaviours, including individual fish tags, echo sounders, and camera systems. Experiments will be conducted in research facilities and salmon farms that are testing new technologies.
The student will need to obtain a scholarship for a PhD at the University of Melbourne (~$30000 per year tax free). A first-class honours or Masters is essential to qualify. A $10000 per year top-up scholarship will be available in addition.
Experience working with fish or in marine environments is desirable, but not essential. The student must be prepared to spend 2-3 months per year in Norway for experiments at the ‘NASA of aquaculture’ – the Matre research station of the Institute of Marine Research. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the project.
Expressions of interest are welcome until September 24, 2021.
Please get in touch with Prof. Tim Dempster ( to discuss this exciting project further