Fishing and Fisheries Management

Find out more about working in fishing or fishery management. See what jobs are available and what the career prospects are. Get information about training and education pathways to employment.

Is Fishing or Fisheries Management for Me?

Career Overview

Fishery management involves regulating and calculating how much fishermen are allowed to fish in order to make sure fish populations don't get too low. Other management-level careers related to fishing may include ship captain, boatswain or aquaculture farm manager. Ship captains and boatswains are responsible for fishing operations that take place at sea. Aquaculture managers oversee farms that raise fish and shellfish that are sold for food or recreational sport. You may find additional career opportunities in local and federal government agencies, such as game and fish warden.

You may end up working long, sometimes stressful hours for weeks at a time if you oversee ocean fishing operations. Aquaculture managers typically work during the daytime but often work more than 40 hours each week. Fishery managers may spend time working indoors and outdoors.

Employment Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected to see a decline in job opportunities for careers related to fishing and fish management from 2012-2022 ( Rising competition from farm-raised fish and the growing seafood imports contributed to a decline in job opportunities for fishers and related fishing workers. The best job prospects were typically found in seasonal jobs and at large fishing operations. The BLS also reported that the 2013 median annual income for fishers and related fishing workers was $35,270 and $70,110 for aquaculture managers, while aquaculture supervisors earned $43,480. Earnings for boat captains varied due to demand and environmental conditions.

How Can I Work in Fishing or Fishery Management?

Training and Education

There are no formal education requirements to become a captain on a fishing vessel. If you operate a large fishing vessel, you may need to complete a course administered by the coast guard. A license and a permit are usually required no matter where you are fishing. Permit requirements may differ if you are fishing in state regulated waters or federally regulated waters.

Although you may be able to find a few jobs in fishery management without postsecondary education, it is common for fishery managers to complete a 2- or 4-year fisheries degree program. An associate's degree in fisheries technology can prepare you for careers in fish surveying, harvest management and habitat restoration. Course options for a fishery technology program may include fishery law, fishery biology and oceanography.

A bachelor's degree in aquaculture can prepare you for careers in fish farm operation, fishery development consulting and many others. You can learn about fish population dynamics, fish contaminates and fishery assessment. In a fishery management program, you have course options such as management of freshwater fish, ecology, biometry, land use analysis and natural resource laws. Some schools have wildlife societies that can provide you with additional learning opportunities in fishery management.

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