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Fisheries officers monitor, manage and protect farmed and wild fish stocks and the rivers, lakes and other habitats where they live.
Fisheries officers work indoors on office-based tasks as well as outdoors at various sites.

What does a fisheries officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Most fisheries officers work for government agencies and departments including the Environment Agency and the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate. Opportunities also arise with sea fisheries committees, angling organisations, environmental organisations, water authorities and research establishments such as The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).

Typical responsibilities include:

  • undertaking investigative surveys of water quality and the health, spawning and movement of fish
  • policing waterways to check for unlawful fishing
  • liaising with the planning departments of local authorities about the location of new buildings etc
  • checking anglers’ licences
  • writing reports
  • preparing evidence and statements for prosecution cases
  • catching, measuring, examining and releasing fish and assessing their health
  • making improvements to habitats through work on streams and river banks
  • providing advice about the location of fish stock
  • handling general enquiries from the public
  • granting licences to move fish
  • working with other organisations and agencies to plan environmental projects
  • offering information and advice to sports fisheries about legal/importation restrictions
  • keeping up to date with changes in legislation/EU directives

Job vacancies are advertised via the internet, including on the Institute of Fisheries Management website; in local, regional and national newspapers; and in relevant scientific publications such as New Scientist and Nature, both online and in print. Speculative applications are advisable.

Qualifications and training required

Fisheries officers usually need a degree in a relevant scientific subject, such as: marine sciences, aquaculture, biology, fisheries science/management, ecology, environmental science, oceanography, zoology or agriculture. Gaining a relevant postgraduate qualification is helpful for candidates who are interested in getting a research post. Due to the competitive nature of the profession, relevant work experience is normally essential – this can be gained via job shadowing, vacation work or placements. Practical skills such as angling, boat handling and engine maintenance can also be beneficial.

Key skills for fisheries officers

Candidates should have excellent analytical, organisational, interpersonal and communication skills. Outdoor work in bad weather can be physically demanding so employers look for resilience, self-motivation and genuine enthusiasm. Candidates should be confident working independently and in teams. A full clean driving licence is often needed as fisheries officers need to travel between sites.

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