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Aquaculture DEI: Utilizing Collaboration to Bolster Workforce Pathway Development

Meridian is facilitating collaborative approaches to building diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into conversations around responsible U.S. aquaculture development.

The Challenge 

  • The U.S. aquaculture sector cannot expand without a thriving workforce. But attracting and retaining young talent has been a growing challenge—one that could be mitigated through collaboration across the workforce pathway and fostering DEI practices in the industry. 

The Stakeholders 

  • We have interviewed over 50 people with a stake in aquaculture workforce development: students, educators, aquaculture sector representatives, and industry support organizations. 
  • We convene a DEI-Aquaculture Community of Practice, consisting of aquaculture educators and practitioners actively working to enhance DEI in U.S. aquaculture. 

The Impact 

  • We published two reports synthesizing insights from our interviews with an array of U.S. aquaculture stakeholders. This comprehensive report series has helped build shared understanding on DEI barriers and opportunities, as well as aquaculture industry views on DEI.
  • Our interview research has opened doors for intentional dialogue on workforce development and DEI—both via support networks, like the DEI-Aquaculture Community of Practice, and at industry meetings, like Aquaculture America. 

Project Overview

The U.S. aquaculture sector faces significant workforce development challenges that could affect successful industry build-out, including difficulties attracting and retaining young talent. One opportunity to address these challenges is to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices throughout the workforce pathway, enhancing both industry participation and representation. 

As a complement to its multisectoral aquaculture engagement work, Meridian is facilitating conversations and action to build understanding around how DEI can support the long-term sustainability of responsible U.S. aquaculture. Core to this effort is the DEI-Aquaculture Community of Practice (CoP) that Meridian convenes, consisting of aquaculture educators and practitioners from around the U.S. committed to enhancing DEI in the domestic industry. 

Since first convening in summer 2022, the CoP has worked to position DEI as an integrative pillar to workforce development. The group aims connect the dots between DEI initiatives, socialize the importance of DEI with aquaculture stakeholders, and support students with opportunities to access the work in the industry. 

Meridian’s work also involves interview research to capture perspectives on DEI from a broad array of U.S. aquaculture stakeholders. This includes both a foundational assessment on DEI barriers and opportunities in aquaculture workforce development and a follow-on synthesis of aquaculture industry stakeholder views on DEI. This work has opened opportunities for DEI and industry stakeholders to dialogue on how to address shared workforce needs.  

Complete findings from our two-part interview research series are linked below. These reports serve as a resource to encourage deeper understanding and discussion of aquaculture DEI issues among educators, practitioners, and industry leaders.