In late May, PAES W.A.T.E.R. welcomed a new RAS Facilities supervisor after more than a year of searching for the ideal candidate. Shawn Burke has a background in managing large-scale recirculating aquaculture systems, and he has held a variety of positions in other aquaculture facilities, including Aquaculture Technician, Production Supervisor, and Assistant Manager. Shawn has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from Purdue University.
“Operators of state-of-the-art RAS facilities require a very specialized skill set, and the fact of the matter is that there just aren’t many qualified individuals out there in the market place,” said PAES W.A.T.E.R. Manager of Aquatic Systems Brian Catanzaro. "The specialized skills required for RAS operators are not being taught in most universities. Much of this knowledge comes from hands on learning in a commercial aquaculture environment. Qualified operators can be difficult to find so we are very happy to bring Shawn on board at PAES W.A.T.E.R.”
We sat down with Shawn to get his perspective on the industry and find out what he’s most looking forward to in his new position at the world-class PAES W.A.T.E.R. facility.
What is your background and training in aquaculture?
I graduated from Purdue University in 2014 with a degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. After graduation I began working for a commercial RAS Facility raising primarily Rainbow Trout. I gained extensive experience in RAS and knew this was the career that I wanted to pursue.
What inspired you to pursue a career in aquaculture?
At a young age I knew I wanted to work with fish. It wasn’t until college when I became interested in RAS and began to understand the need for raising a sustainable source of protein.
What is the most exciting aspect of working in this industry?
The most exciting aspect of working in the aquaculture industry is that RAS is still a new technology and I believe it is a huge step in providing a sustainable protein source to the growing population.
What do you think the biggest challenges the industry faces today?
One challenge I believe the Industry faces today is the lack of workers trained on what it takes to run RAS System. There is constantly more equipment being developed in order to make RAS a more economical solution.
What do you hope to accomplish at PAES W.A.T.E.R.?
At PAES W.A.T.E.R., I hope to continue production in this state-of-the-art facility as well as help train others on Pentair equipment and what goes into running a RAS Facility.
Welcome to the team, Shawn. We’re excited to have you.