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Fisheries enforcement officers make sure that fish stocks are protected by monitoring whether anglers and commercial fishing companies are following the law.

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

Fishing is only allowed in authorised places in the UK, and there are laws covering which fish can be removed from the water, when they can be removed and how many can be removed. Fisheries enforcement officers are responsible for checking that people and organisations are abiding by these laws and taking action when they're not.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • policing waterways to check for unlawful fishing
  • checking anglers’ licences
  • preparing evidence and statements for prosecution cases
  • catching, measuring, examining and releasing fish and assessing their health
  • making improvements to fish habitats through work on streams and river banks
  • handling general enquiries from the public
  • granting licences to move fish
  • working with other organisations, such as the police, to prevent and tackle illegal fishing
  • offering information and advice to sports fisheries about legal/importation restrictions.

Typical employers of fisheries enforcement officers

  • Government agencies and departments such as the Environment Agency, Marine Scotland and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
  • Water companies
  • Organisations in the seafood industry

Job vacancies are advertised on organisations' websites and specialist sites such as the Institute of Fisheries Management website. Some environmental roles in government agencies are considered part of the Civil Service, so jobs may be advertised on the Civil Service careers site.

Qualifications and training required

You don't need a degree to become a fisheries enforcement officer, but a degree in a relevant scientific subject, such as marine sciences, aquaculture, biology, fisheries science/management, environmental science, oceanography, zoology or agriculture can be advantageous.

Experience of water-based environments is essential, as is an understanding of the law around fishing and knowledge of different fish species. As you progress, you can work towards specialist qualifications.

Key skills for fisheries officers

Good communication skills are essential, as you'll need to explain legislation to people from a range of backgrounds. Other essential qualities and skills include:

  • excellent analytical skills
  • organisational and information management skills
  • confidence handling boats and angling equipment
  • resilience when working outside for long hours
  • confidence handling conflict
  • the ability to learn new technical skills and legislation quickly.

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