Survey: Aquaculture Extension workforce is aging; expect retirements


By Tiffany Woods

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A survey of professionals in jobs related to Extension and aquaculture at universities and two federal agencies found that over half plan to retire in the next 10 years. The finding comes as the U.S. government ramps up its funding for research on farming fish, shellfish and seaweed.

Extension is a university-based, nationwide program that provides research-based information, educational opportunities, and technical expertise to help people, communities and businesses solve problems and be successful. Its aquaculture experts – including those with the national Sea Grant program – have expanded markets, trained workers on using new technologies, informed consumers about the nutritional benefits of seafood, and analyzed the economics of raising certain species.

Sam Chan helped conduct the survey. He is a member of the National Aquaculture Extension Steering Committee.

Sam Chan helped conduct the survey. He is a member of the National Aquaculture Extension Steering Committee. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

The survey was conducted by faculty with Oregon Sea Grant, Kentucky State University (KSU) and the University of Idaho (U of I). It was sent to about 160 people in the United States who attended the 2017 National Aquaculture Extension Conference, are on an aquaculture Extension listserv with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or are on a fisheries Extension listserv with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sea Grant program.

“We pretty much covered the entire population of people in the U.S. who either work for Extension and have some aspect of aquaculture in their jobs or who hold administrative or other positions that support Extension staff involved with aquaculture,” said Sam Chan, a watershed Extension specialist with Oregon Sea Grant who helped conduct the survey.

Sixty-nine people responded to the survey. About two-thirds said they are Extension aquaculture specialists or educators. The remainder largely described themselves as “working in a related field.”

Oregon State University’s Carla Schubiger is a researcher on an oyster project that’s funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her grant is one of 22 from NOAA totaling $11 million announced in October 2018 to grow the U.S. aquaculture industry.

Oregon State University’s Carla Schubiger is a researcher on an oyster project that’s funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her grant is one of 22 from NOAA totaling $11 million announced in October 2018 to grow the U.S. aquaculture industry. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

Sixty-six people responded when asked how much longer they plan to work in their current position before retiring. A third said one to five years, and 20% said six to 10 years. That means that over half of the respondents could retire in the next 10 years. If that were extrapolated to the estimated total workforce of aquaculture Extension professionals and related administrators, Chan said, it would mean that over 80 people are planning to retire in the next decade.

“Given the number of upcoming retirements, the window is becoming increasingly narrow for current aquaculture Extension specialists to recruit, train and mentor new professionals,” said Chan, who is a member of the National Aquaculture Extension Steering Committee and is based at Oregon State University.

To attract new hires, Chan said, respondents suggested that universities emphasize the variety of professional backgrounds that a career in aquaculture Extension can use. For example, he said, knowledge of law, engineering, food science, economics and environmental science can be useful to Extension specialists who work in aquaculture.

OSU’s Chris Langdon aims to scale up the production of a red seaweed thanks to funding from NOAA. The grant is part of the federal government’s effort to expand domestic aquaculture.

OSU’s Chris Langdon aims to scale up the production of a red seaweed thanks to funding from NOAA. The grant is part of the federal government’s effort to expand domestic aquaculture. (Photo by Stephen Ward)

The survey asked people if they thought their institution or agency would refill their position with aquaculture Extension duties. Forty-four percent of the 68 respondents said yes and 46% said maybe.

The survey also asked about age. Fifteen percent of the 64 people who responded to that question said they were at least 67 years old. Forty-five percent were 51 to 66 years old, and 34% were 36 to 50 years old. About a quarter of the 64 respondents were women, with a majority of the women between 36 and 50 years old.

Sixty-seven people responded when asked how long they have worked in aquaculture Extension. Nearly half said they have worked in such a role for 16 to 31 or more years. Nearly 30% said no more than five years.

The survey comes at a time when the federal government is working to grow the U.S. aquaculture industry by funding research and trainings. In October 2017, NOAA said it would award $9.3 million to 32 projects to support U.S. aquaculture. The next year, NOAA announced 22 additional grants totaling $11 million, also to advance U.S. aquaculture.

“Growth in the domestic aquaculture industry holds great promise to create jobs and reduce our dependence on seafood imports,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said at the time of the 2018 announcement.

Forrest Wynne and Gary Fornshell, aquaculture Extension specialists at KSU and the U of I, respectively, helped conduct the survey.

Survey: Coastal tourism workforce needs training in customer service, other areas

September 6, 2018

By Rick Cooper

Diners enjoy lunch outside at the Port O' Call restaurant on the Oregon coast.

Diners enjoy lunch outside at the Port O’ Call restaurant on the Oregon coast. (Photo by Susan Dimock)

Managers of tourism businesses on the Oregon coast need their workers to be trained in customer service, housekeeping, staff management/human resources, marketing and other areas, according to a survey.

The results of the survey, which were published by Oregon Sea Grant in a 44-page report, also revealed that

  • for those who identified marketing as a program interest, the desired topics were social media and online reputation management, with Facebook as the most desired training topic
  • the probability of workers participating in training workshops was highest for trainings that are on site and in person
  • the majority of organizations face difficulty hiring quality staff and want staff training and workforce-development programs
  • some respondents are unprepared to pay for training; however, those who are prepared indicated that a median cost of about $50 for a four-hour training would be acceptable

Oregon Sea Grant Extension’s Sustainable Tourism Program invited management-level representatives of the coastal visitor industry to complete the online survey between Feb. 7 and March 19, 2018. The approximately 180 respondents included owners, managers and presidents of coastal businesses. The Oregon Coast Visitors Association (OCVA) funded the survey.

Miles Phillips, a coastal tourism specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University’s Extension Service, wrote the report that summarized the findings of the survey. Oregon Sea Grant edited and published the report, which is titled Coastal Oregon Visitor Industry (Tourism) Workforce Needs Assessment 2018.

“This survey revealed highly variable opinions and experiences with employee recruitment and training,” Phillips wrote in an email. “The majority expressed difficulty in finding quality employees; however, a small number described how they have succeeded in finding and retaining employees. This type of survey work is very important to help target training programs in response to the desires of the industry.”

The report aims to help the OCVA, Extension, Oregon Sea Grant, the tourism industry, workforce development agencies, and funding organizations develop and implement training programs.

New publications look at Oregon coast recreational outfitter and tour guide businesses

Two new publications from Oregon Sea Grant examine several facets of Oregon coast recreational outfitters and tour guides, including their services, pricing, and online marketing effectiveness.

Fishing guide

A fishing guide demonstrates his technique. (Photo by Erik Urdahl)

Assessment of Registered Oregon Coast Outfitters and Guides examines data related to guides registered with the Oregon State Marine Board and provides a summary of some basic information about registered guides in the state, including numbers, locations and types of services provided. A printable PDF of the eight-page publication is available for free download here.

A companion publication, Survey of Online Marketing Success and Pricing for Oregon Coast Fishing Guides and Tour Operators, presents an inventory of guided salmon fishing, whale watching and kayaking businesses. Guide and tour companies can use this study to gauge the effectiveness of their online marketing and to better understand how their services are priced in the marketplace. You can download a free, printable PDF of the 18-page publication here.


A novice kayaker gets the hang of paddling. (Photo by Erik Urdahl)

The publications represent an effort to better understand such businesses’ economic impacts, job opportunities, resource management, professional development opportunities and marketing support. Individuals and organizations that might benefit from these reports include registered Oregon guide businesses, tour operators, coastal tourism promoters, community and economic development firms, natural-resource management agencies and researchers.

The research for both publications was conducted with the support and cooperation of Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), Oregon State University Extension, Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association and the Oregon State Marine Board. Authors are Miles Phillips, an OSG Extension coastal tourism specialist; and Catie Michel, a 2017 OSG Summer Scholar. Phillips is also the author of the OSG publications Agritourism in Oregon’s Coastal Counties: Land Use Policy and Permitting Requirements and Transient Lodging Taxes on the Oregon Coast.


Oregon residents: Take the Oregon Coastal Values survey

Photo of Oregon coast

A research team at Portland State University is conducting a survey of Oregonians to find out how Oregon residents use and value the coast and ocean. The survey asks for your opinions on marine management activities and your preferences for future management. It also includes an online mapping activity, allowing you to indicate places on the coast that are important to you and to recommend changes in the management of areas.

The goal of the survey is to reach a broad set of adult residents who have lived in Oregon for a year or more. The research team also wants to make sure they hear from people across the state, including eastern and southern Oregon. Please feel free to share this link with others via e-mail, social media, or any other way you feel comfortable.

This project is funded by Oregon Sea Grant, and findings will be shared in a final report to managers, researchers, and the public. All responses will be anonymous, and only summaries of findings will be shared.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Paul Manson, a Ph.D. student researcher at Portland State University: You may also contact the project’s principal investigator, Elise Granek, at graneke@pdx.eduThe research team is also on Twitter.

PROMISE interns record their summer with Sea Grant

Check out this lively video from PROMISE interns Dulguun Baasansuren and Noelle Moen, recounting how they spent a busy summer working with Oregon Sea Grant’s aquatic invasive species program:

Learn more:

  • Our Oregon Sea Grant Scholars program offers a variety of marine science, policy and education opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Pet care product survey deadline nears

Pet owners, veterinarians and other pet-care professionals have until March 16 to take part in a national survey of how people dispose of unused pet care products such as medications, flea collars, shampoos and other grooming products.

Oregon Sea Grant is conducting the study as part of a broader look at how all kinds of personal care products used by people find their way into landfills and wastewater systems, where they can affect the health of local watersheds. With an estimated 68 percent of American households owning at least one pet, it’s important to know how animal-care products figure into the larger picture.

While the survey has had a good response from Oregon and other West Coast states, the survey team, led by Oregon Sea Grant watershed health specialist Sam Chan, would like to see more responses from other states.

“You can count on one hand the number of studies that have been done on what people actively do with the disposal of these products,” Chan said. “PPCPs are used by almost everyone and most wastewater treatment plants are not able to completely deactivate many of the compounds they include.”

Sea Grant survey: Coastal professionals, managers concerned about climate change

High surf at Fishing RockThe American public may be divided over whether climate is changing, but coastal managers and elected officials in nine states say they see the change happening—and believe their communities will need to adapt.

That’s one finding from a NOAA Sea Grant research project, led by Oregon Sea Grant and involving multiple other Sea Grant programs, which surveyed coastal leaders in selected parts of the nation’s Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes coasts, as well as Hawaii.

Three quarters of coastal professionals surveyed – and 70% of all participants – said they believe that the climate in their area is changing—a marked contrast to results of some national surveys of the broader American public which have found diverse and even polarized views about climate change and global warming.

The Sea Grant survey was developed to understand what coastal/resource professionals and elected officials think about climate change, where their communities stand in planning for climate adaptation and what kinds of information they need, said project leader Joe Cone, assistant director of Oregon Sea Grant.  Sea Grant programs in Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois-Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington—states that represent most of NOAA’s coastal regions—took part, administering the survey at various times between January 2012 and November 2013.

Learn more:

New publication discusses effective stakeholder engagement in marine planning

A new publication from Oregon Sea Grant, Knowledge, Capacity, and Needs for Effective Stakeholder Engagement in Marine Planning, examines the key findings from a study of marine spatial planning efforts on the west coast.

In response to the many existing and emerging demands on coastal and ocean resources, President Obama established by Executive Order the National Ocean Policy (NOP) in 2010, identifying marine spatial planning (MSP) as a mechanism to reduce conflicts and improve management. On the west coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was designated as a federal co-lead for implementation. NOAA’s Western Regional Collaboration Team (NOAA West), a cross-cutting line office team, and the west coast Sea Grant programs initiated assessment of NOAA’s knowledge, capacity, and needs related to MSP through focus groups and a survey.

This 39-page publication reveals the results of this study and makes recommendations for improvements in the MSP process. You can download a PDF of the publication free of charge here.

New publication seeks to understand the roles of Oregon’s non-consumptive recreational ocean users

The following publication is available from Oregon Sea Grant.

It may also be purchased from Oregon Sea Grant.

Oregon’s Non-Consumptive Recreational Ocean User Community: Understanding an ocean stakeholder

While some types of ocean use, such as recreational and commercial fishing, have received research attention, little research has been directed at Oregon’s non-consumptive recreational ocean users.

Surfers, kayakers, kiteboarders, boat-based nature viewers, divers, wind surfers, and boaters are among Oregon’s non-consumptive recreational ocean users. They are neighbors and business owners, community leaders and family members, employees and friends. They are an important group of people making economic and cultural contributions to coastal communities, and one with a stake in the outstanding public ocean resources near and far from Oregon’s shores.

Non-consumptive recreational ocean users are often stewards of the beaches and sea, and they are coming to play on the ocean from all over Oregon and beyond. They are also currently underrepresented in the literature, and are poorly understood. This publication seeks to remedy that situation.

New publication reveals perceptions and opinions of climate change


A new publication from Oregon Sea Grant, An Analysis of a Survey of Oregon Coast Decision Makers Regarding Climate Change, reveals that

• most people are concerned about climate change and how it may affect the Oregon coast
• the most frequently cited risks associated with effects of climate change on the Oregon coast involved physical processes such as sea-level rise and erosion
• few are ready now to respond to climate change
• people would be willing to take action in work if there were compelling information, new funding, and a sense of local urgency
• coastal professionals have needs for assistance regarding climate change, particularly credible, relevant information to provide the public
• coastal professionals have low amounts of information on climate change topics they consider important for the performance of their work

You can order this 20-page publication (color cover, B&W insides) for $3.50 plus shipping and handling by calling 541-737-4849 or e-mailing You may also download it from