PORTLAND — Three Maine lobstermen and a former groundfish fisherman are graduating from the first-ever “cod academy” aimed at teaching them the ins and outs of fish farming.

The school has provided the four with classroom training and hands-on experience at a fish farm off eastern Maine that raises cod. Today’s graduation ceremony is being held at the USDA National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center in Franklin.

Sebastian Belle of the Maine Aquaculture Association, who spearheaded the school, says the goal is to provide fishermen with more opportunities to make their livelihoods off the water while diversifying the state’s aquaculture industry and preserving Maine’s working waterfronts.

The graduates are now eligible for receiving financial assistance from the association to start their own small-scale cod farms if they choose.

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