Fisheries Specialist

Fisheries specialists are dedicated to the sustainability and management of fish populations and aquatic habitats. They develop and oversee research projects, analyze fish behaviours and environmental conditions data, and devise habitat conservation and fisheries management strategies. Their expertise guides policy decisions, balancing ecological health and commercial fishing interests.

At a Glance

The day-to-day life of a fisheries specialist is diverse and engaging, focusing on managing, conserving, and protecting marine life. These professionals often start their day early, checking their emails for updates on new regulations, research, or reports on the state of fish populations in the area.

Once they have reviewed their emails, fisheries specialists will often head out to the field to collect data on fish populations and their habitats. Data collection may involve deploying sensors, collecting water samples, and observing fish behaviour in their natural environment.

Back in the office, fisheries specialists analyze the collected data, looking for trends or patterns that may indicate changes in fish populations or their environment. They then use this information to develop and implement policies and regulations that promote sustainable fishing practices and protect marine ecosystems.

Fisheries specialists collaborate with other professionals, such as scientists, fishermen, and policymakers. This collaboration may involve attending meetings or conferences, participating in working groups, and sharing their fish biology, ecology, and management expertise.

In addition to their fieldwork and research, fisheries specialists also engage in outreach and education efforts to promote responsible fishing practices and raise awareness about protecting marine ecosystems. They may meet with fishermen, give presentations to local communities, or work with schools to develop educational programs.

With a focus on ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of fish populations and marine ecosystems, work as a fisheries specialist is varied and rewarding,

Job Duties

Job duties vary from one position to the next, but in general, fisheries specialists are involved in the following activities:

  • Create and enforce plans with quotas and seasons, balancing ecological well-being with economic interests.
  • Monitor and assess aquatic ecosystems, identifying changes or threats to biodiversity and water quality.
  • Develop, review, and update fisheries policies and regulations to reflect current scientific knowledge and conservation practices.
  • Conduct field surveys to gather data on fish populations, habitats, and environmental impacts.
  • Manage research projects to enhance fishery practices and understand the impact of human activities on water ecosystems.
  • Work with local communities, fishers, industry groups, and environmental organizations to promote sustainable fisheries.
  • Implement and manage conservation and restoration projects to enhance fish habitats and protect endangered species.
  • Lead educational and outreach activities to raise awareness about sustainable fishing practices and marine conservation.
  • Provide technical expertise and advice on best practices and conservation measures to fisheries managers, policymakers, and industry stakeholders.
  • Monitor and ensure compliance with fisheries regulations and conservation laws, conducting inspections.

Work Environment

Fisheries specialists operate within the office, field, and laboratory. In each of these settings, individuals in this occupation carry out various duties.

 The office:

  • Draft and revise fisheries management policies and regulations based on scientific evidence and sustainability principles.
  • Analyze data from field and lab studies to identify trends, draft reports, and make recommendations for fisheries management.
  • Seek funding opportunities, write grant proposals, and manage budgets for research and conservation projects.
  • Maintain communication with government agencies, environmental organizations, industry groups, and the public to share information and collaborate on fisheries management.
  • Design and plan research projects, conservation initiatives, and outreach programs, setting objectives, timelines, and resources needed.
  • Create educational and outreach materials, such as brochures, presentations, and web content, to promote awareness of fisheries conservation.

The field: 

  • Conduct on-site evaluations of aquatic environments to assess habitat conditions and identify areas requiring conservation efforts.
  • Perform surveys to collect data on fish populations, including species identification, counting, and measuring.
  • Measure water quality parameters and other environmental factors that affect fish habitats.
  • Gather water, sediment, and biological samples for analysis to monitor ecosystem health and pollution levels.
  • Meet with local communities, fishers, and industry representatives to discuss sustainable practices and conservation strategies.
  • Oversee the implementation of habitat restoration projects and monitor their progress and effectiveness.

The laboratory:

  • Conduct chemical, physical, and biological analyses of water, sediment, and tissue samples to assess environmental health and pollution.
  • Perform genetic analyses to study fish populations, identify species, and understand biodiversity.
  • Analyze samples for signs of disease or pathogens affecting fish populations.
  • Manage and organize data collected from field and laboratory studies for easy access and analysis.
  • Ensure that laboratory equipment is calibrated correctly and maintained and that procedures meet quality standards.
  • Conduct controlled experiments to test hypotheses related to fisheries science, such as the effects of pollutants on fish health.

Where to Work

Fisheries specialists work in diverse settings, where they contribute to the management, research, and conservation of aquatic ecosystems. They include:

  • Government environmental agencies
  • Research institutions and universities
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Aquaculture operations
  • Marine and freshwater laboratories
  • Fisheries management councils
  • Public aquariums and marine parks
  • International conservation organizations
  • Wildlife and conservation foundations

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are considering a career as a fisheries specialist, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Marine ecology, aquaculture, and fisheries science
  • Environmental conservation and issues
  • Scientific research, data analysis, and statistics
  • Public policy and advocacy
  • Education and outreach
  • Sustainable resource management

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a fisheries specialist, the following undergraduate programs are most applicable:

  • Marine Biology
  • Fisheries Science
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Natural Resource Management

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a fisheries specialist is an undergraduate degree or college diploma. Pursuing a master's or doctoral degree can enhance your expertise, career prospects, and ability to contribute to the field. These advanced degrees offer specialized knowledge and skills highly valued in professional and academic settings.

Professional certifications for fisheries specialists in Canada are not mandatory; however, certifications validate expertise, current skills, and knowledge in the field. Certifications enhance credibility, increase salaries, and improve job prospects by demonstrating commitment to professional development and adherence to industry standards.

Provincial or territorial associations grant professional biologist registration. This license is for professionals practicing biology in environmental fields, including fisheries.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Species identification
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Aquatic habitat assessment
  • Fisheries management practices
  • Environmental policy and regulation
  • Geographic information systems and remote sensing
  • Aquaculture techniques
  • Research methods
  • Conservation strategies
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Attention to retail
  • Conflict resolution
  • Time management

Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch our free webinar Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry or take our Essential Skills courses.

Role Models

Your Impact

Fisheries specialists work to balance the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems with human demands, making it inherently an environmental occupation. These experts dedicate their efforts to securing the future health of fish stocks and their habitats through in-depth research on fish populations, evaluating habitat conditions, and adopting sustainable management strategies.

Their work affects the environment by promoting biodiversity, aiding the recovery of endangered species, and restoring degraded habitats. This role is pivotal in environmental conservation, as it involves developing and enforcing regulations and policies that protect aquatic ecosystems from overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction.

The sustainability impact of a fisheries specialist's work includes promoting practices that allow for the replenishment of fish populations, ensuring that fishing industries can continue without compromising future resources. Their work also supports the fishing industry by helping to maintain stable fish populations, which are vital for the livelihoods of communities worldwide. Fisheries specialists engage with various stakeholders, including local communities, to raise awareness about sustainable fishing and conservation efforts.

Through education and outreach, fisheries specialists foster a collective responsibility toward conserving aquatic resources, highlighting the interconnectedness of environmental health, economic stability, and social well-being.

Occupational Classification

Fisheries specialists may be classified into the following occupational groupings:

NOC Code: 21110 – Biologists and related scientists

NOC Code: 41400 – Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

NOC Code: 80010 – Managers in natural resources production and fishing

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.


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