Fisheries Technician

Fisheries technicians are vital in conserving and managing aquatic life. This hands-on position involves monitoring fish populations, collecting water quality data, and assisting with habitat restoration projects. Technicians often work outdoors, conducting field research and implementing conservation practices. They collaborate with biologists and ecologists, employing scientific techniques to ensure the health and sustainability of aquatic ecosystems.

At a Glance

Imagine starting your day as a fisheries specialist, diving into the diverse and engaging world of marine life management, conservation, and protection. Your morning begins with checking emails for the latest updates on regulations, research, or reports concerning local fish populations.

After sifting through your inbox, you venture into the field to gather data on fish populations and their habitats, which involves deploying sensors, collecting water samples, and observing the behaviour of fish in their natural surroundings.

Once back in the office, your focus shifts to analyzing the collected data and identifying trends or patterns that signal changes in fish populations or their environments. This analysis forms the basis for developing and implementing policies and regulations to promote sustainable fishing practices and safeguard marine ecosystems.

Your role also involves collaborating with professionals, from scientists and fishermen to policymakers, in various settings, such as attending meetings or conferences, participating in working groups, and sharing your fish biology, ecology, and management expertise.

Beyond fieldwork and research, you engage in outreach and education to advocate for responsible fishing practices and protecting marine ecosystems. Meetings with fishermen, presentations to local communities, or collaborating with schools on educational programs are all in a day's work.

Job Duties

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

  • Perform surveys to record fish numbers, sizes, and species across different habitats, monitoring trends over time.
  • Gather water samples to evaluate their chemical balance and clarity, considering how these factors influence fish and ecosystems.
  • Examine aquatic environments to pinpoint areas needing restoration or protection to enhance fish populations.
  • Keep field research tools properly calibrated and functioning, like electrofishing gear, GPS, and water testing kits.
  • Process samples in the laboratory, dissect fish, determine species, and analyze samples for comprehensive study.
  • Compile data from the field and lab into reports, providing insights and suggesting actions for fisheries management and ecosystem conservation.
  • Collaborate with the community, fishermen, and other groups to share knowledge and foster sustainable practices.
  • Contribute to creating and implementing conservation strategies to boost fish numbers and habitat quality.
  • Participate in educational initiatives to inform the public about conserving fisheries and maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems.
  • Verify that field and laboratory operations adhere to relevant fisheries and environmental protection regulations.

Work Environment

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

The office:

  • Input collected data for analysis; use statistical software to interpret findings related to fish populations and environmental conditions.
  • Draft reports on field and laboratory findings, data analysis, graphical representations, and fisheries management and conservation strategies recommendations.
  • Organize and maintain digital and physical research data records, project documentation, and equipment inventories.
  • Prepare and disseminate information via e-mail, newsletters, or presentations to stakeholders, including funding agencies, local communities, and conservation groups.
  • Assist in planning and scheduling field and laboratory research activities, including logistical arrangements for site visits and sample collection.
  • Research current scientific literature on fisheries science, conservation methods, and environmental policies to inform project development and execution.

The field:

  • Conduct onsite evaluations of aquatic habitats to identify conditions and factors affecting fish populations and ecosystem health.
  • Gather water samples and biological specimens from marine environments using nets, traps, and other methods.
  • Measure and record environmental parameters such as water temperature, pH, and clarity at different field sites.
  • Employ methods like electrofishing and netting to capture, count, measure, and release fish, collecting data on species diversity and population density.
  • Install and maintain field equipment, including monitoring devices and habitat restoration structures.
  • Meet with local fishermen and community members to discuss findings, gather local ecological knowledge, and promote conservation practices.

The laboratory:

  • Analyze collected water and biological samples for chemical composition, pollutants, and biological indicators.
  • Perform dissections on fish specimens to study anatomy, collect tissue samples, and assess health or disease indicators.
  • Aggregate and organize data from sample analyses into databases for further statistical analysis and interpretation.
  • Ensure that laboratory procedures are followed accurately and consistently to maintain integrity of sample processing and analysis.
  • Calibrate laboratory instruments and equipment to ensure precise measurements and reliable results.
  • Collaborate with scientists and researchers to develop experimental designs, troubleshoot laboratory methods, and contribute to scientific papers or presentations.


Where to Work

Fisheries technicians are employed across a diverse range of settings and industries, where they contribute to the sustainable management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems and fish populations. Fisheries technicians often work for:

  • Government agencies
  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Research institutions and universities
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Aquaculture facilities
  • Marine reserves and protected areas
  • Private fisheries management companies
  • Public aquariums and marine parks
  • National, provincial, and territorial parks
  • Environmental regulatory bodies

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


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

  • Marine ecology and aquatic ecosystem
  • Environmental stewardship and conservation efforts
  • Sustainable resource management
  • Scientific research methods
  • Outdoor fieldwork

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

  • Fisheries and Wildlife Management
  • Marine Biology
  • Environmental Science
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Conservation Biology

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a fisheries technician is an undergraduate degree or a two- to three-year college program.

Professional certifications recognize a fisheries technician's specialized skills and knowledge, aligning them with industry standards, which can boost their job prospects by showcasing their commitment to excellence and ensuring they contribute to safe and sustainable fisheries practices. Certification and licensing are available with provincial or territorial regulatory associations.


Technical Skills

  • Aquatic species identification
  • Water quality testing
  • Fisheries management techniques
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Electrofishing operation
  • GPS and mapping tools
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Aquatic habitat restoration
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Regulatory compliance and policy

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Initiative and self-motivation

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

Ron Campbell

I am of Metis status and speak Cree fluently. I have lived in the north all my life and was raised in a small fishing community of Moose Lake, Manitoba. When I was a couple of years old, a hydro dam was built near our community and drastically changed the ecosystem of the area. Moose Lake was flooded and most of the families had to move to higher ground. Our lake became a reservoir and the fish population and wildlife were affected.

My grandpa and uncles had done well as commercial fishermen and trappers, but the hydro dam changed all that. Being outdoors as a child with my Grandpa and uncles helped me develop a passion for the environment. I knew that I wanted to work with natural resources and I made it happen. In 1983, I got a job as a Resource Management Assistant with Manitoba Natural Resources. I was involved in all aspects of resource management from forestry, fire suppression, trapping, fishing and enforcement.

Then in 1999, I took a leave of absence from work and enrolled in the Natural Resources Technology Program at Keewatin Community College in The Pas, Manitoba. It’s a great program. The courses are so varied and very interesting. I learned about all different aspects of natural resources. When I graduated in 2001, I accepted a position at Manitoba Conservation with the Regional Fisheries Department. I believe that often too much emphasis is placed on strictly scientific evaluations of resources.

When I’m asked to do an assessment on a lake, I go and ask the community Elders for advice on traditional fishing areas. If that’s where people are catching fish, then that’s where I should do the testing. We need more Aboriginal people in the field who have traditional values. Because I believe that traditional knowledge is so important in my profession, I plan to establish a database of the vast knowledge our Elders have about our ecosystem. This database will catalogue interviews I’ve had with Elders. Having a permanent record will preserve these Elders' wisdom for future generations. I believe that in the future, traditional knowledge will be applied more often to management decisions regarding Mother Earth.

Your Impact

Fisheries technicians are pivotal in conserving aquatic ecosystems, making it inherently an environmental occupation. Tasked with monitoring fish populations, assessing water quality, and implementing habitat restoration projects, these technicians directly impact the environment by ensuring the sustainability and health of aquatic life. Their work supports the balance between human activities, such as fishing and industrial development, and preserving natural habitats, crucial for biodiversity.

This occupation promotes sustainable practices that maintain fish populations at healthy levels, ensuring that fishing industries can thrive without depleting resources. Fisheries technicians also help safeguard the livelihoods of communities dependent on fishing, contributing to food security and economic stability. Socially, their environmental education and community engagement efforts raise awareness about the importance of sustainable fisheries and aquatic conservation. Fisheries technicians ensure environmental, economic, and social considerations are integrated into fisheries management strategies.

This role is a vital link between scientific research and on-the-ground conservation efforts, ensuring a sustainable interaction between people and aquatic ecosystems.

Occupational Classification

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