What is a Fisheries Sciences and Management Degree?

Fisheries sciences and management degree programs focus on the biology and ecology of fish and shellfish. Students of the field learn about fisheries protection, production, and management. In short, the objective of these programs is to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to maintain long-term sustainable harvesting.

Here is an overview of subject matter that may be covered:

  • Biological science
  • Environmental science
  • Environmental management
  • Natural resource management
  • Natural science
  • History of fisheries
  • Fish ecology and management
  • Conducting research and collecting data on fish health and genetics
  • Fish populations – habitat quality, disease control, conservation methods
  • Industry safety practices
  • Writing and implementing programs to monitor fisheries
  • Statistical analyses for fishery projects
  • Fisheries legislation

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries Sciences and Management – Four Year Duration
Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries Sciences and Management may go on to work in fisheries research and policy development. The typical bachelor’s level curriculum includes courses like these:

  • Marine Biology / Fish Biology / Shellfish Biology
  • Aquatic Animals – Physiology, Behavior, and Reproduction
  • Aquatic Animals – Diseases
  • Fish Husbandry (a study of fish nutrition, diet formulations, feed rates, calculations of growth rates, farming techniques)
  • Threatened and Endangered Species
  • Freshwater and Saltwater Ecosystems
  • Recreational Fisheries
  • Parasite Ecology
  • Aquatic Sciences – Conservation and Management
  • Aquatic and Fishery Sciences – Contemporary Issues
  • Aquatic Sciences – Data Analysis
  • Restoration of Streams and Watersheds
  • Economics of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Science Writing

Master’s Degree in Fisheries Sciences and Management – Two Year Duration
This graduate level degree prepares students for senior positions in fields like environmental consulting, aquaculture, resource management, and university research. The master’s curriculum combines coursework, directed/supervised research, and independent research. With the guidance of their supervisors, students conduct a thesis research project that investigates an issue or issues associated with oceans and fisheries.

Master’s courses taken will vary based on each individual student’s chosen area of research. However, at least some of the following classes are likely to be part of most programs:

  • Aquatic Sciences: Statistics / Bioinformatics and Applied Research
  • Current Topics in Fisheries Management
  • Genetics and Physiology – Current Topics
  • Management Conservation and Restoration
  • Ecology of Aquatic Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Fisheries
  • Climate Impacts on Fisheries

Among possible research concentrations are:

  • Marine Studies (Fisheries Resource Management) – fisheries ecology, resource management, economics, policy, and planning
  • Marine Studies (Marine Spatial Planning and Management) – bioecological, socio-economic, cultural, technological elements of coastal zone development
  • Maritime Management – international best practices for marine based operations
  • Technology Management (Engineering and Applied Science Technology) – management of fisheries technical operations
  • Fisheries Science (Stock Assessment) – focused on collecting, analyzing, and reporting demographic information on the abundance and abundance trends of fishery stocks

Doctoral Degree in Fisheries Sciences and Management – Four Year Duration
Individuals who earn a Doctoral Degree in Fisheries Sciences and Management often become university faculty members or work in resource management positions with government agencies or private companies.

Doctoral programs are very much research-focused. Students attend multiple seminars that address topics in ocean science, governance, and conservation; and prepare them to write their doctoral dissertation. Courses may include:

  • Aquatic Insects
  • Limnology (study of inland fresh waters)
  • Fish Physiology and Behavior
  • Human Dimensions of Fish Conservation
  • Analysis of Fisheries Populations
  • Water Quality and Natural Resources
  • Forest and Wetlands Conservation
  • Wetlands Conservation
  • Water Quality Field Methods
  • Stream Restoration

Degrees Similar to Fisheries Sciences and Management

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture
Degree programs in this field teach students how to practise environmentally sustainable farming. Courses include soil science, animal science, plant science, and organic farming.

Conservation Biology
Conservation biologists apply biological principles to the preservation and rehabilitation of wildlife. They may be involved in enforcing hunting laws and in conservation education.

Students who pursue a degree in ecology study how organisms interact with the natural environments that they live in and how these environments can be protected. In other words, the focus of ecology is to understand ecosystems as well as the social and political interests and policies that threaten them. An ecology curriculum, therefore, starts with courses in both the natural sciences – like biology, chemistry, physics, and geology – and the social sciences.

Environmental Engineering
This branch of engineering is concerned with finding solutions to environmental problems. Degree programs in the field prepare students to work as environmental engineers, who develop plans to prevent and control air and water pollution, improve recycling and waste disposal, and advance public health.

Environmental Science
The basis of this discipline is that all natural things interact. Individuals who pursue a degree in the field learn how to analyze aspects of the environment and identify the causes of environmental problems.

Marine Biology
Students who earn a degree in marine biology study marine organisms and their behaviors and interactions with the environment.

Natural Resource Conservation
Degree programs in natural resource conservation teach students how to protect natural areas like forests, parks, and rangelands. Classes typically cover plant and animal identification and natural resources policy and administration.

Skills You’ll Learn

  • Research / analytical / data interpretation skills
  • Capacity to conduct fieldwork
  • Attention to detail / Accuracy
  • Patience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Project management
  • Report writing

What Can You Do with a Fisheries Sciences and Management Degree?

Federal, State, and Municipal Government Departments and Agencies
Public and Private Aquaculture Organizations and Laboratories
Environmental and Ecological Consulting Firms
Fish Hatcheries
Commercial Fisheries
Universities and Colleges

In the above sectors, individuals with a degree in fisheries sciences and management may find employment that involves:

  • Researching fish health, genetics, and populations
  • Assessing the impacts of polluted areas on fish populations and habitats
  • Developing and implementing programs to monitor and improve fish habitats
  • Developing sustainable fish harvesting programs
  • Writing reports and documents for both the industry and the public
  • Developing fishing and fisheries sciences and management education programs
  • Teaching


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