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Center for Engineering, Science and Mathematics Education

Website Update

Fisheries Observer

Fisheries observers are trained, specialized biological technicians who support conservation and management of commercial fisheries through scientific data collection. They are employed and trained by private companies and contracted to work aboard fishing vessels. An observer may spend weeks to months at sea and collect data about the species, size, sex, and age of fish, as well as any by-caught mammals, birds, or reptiles, taken aboard by the crew. 

Working as a fisheries observer can be physically and mentally taxing, but can expose you to unparalleled experiences in some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world. Observing can also be a launch-point into other fisheries careers. 


High school coursework:

  • Science - fisheries observers are biologists and environmental scientists!
  • Math - this job deals hugely in taking and managing data


Classes you could take in college/at Cal Poly:

  • BIO 322: Ichthyology 
  • MSCI 301: Biological Oceanography
  • MSCI 439: Fisheries Science and Resource Management


Ways to get experience:

  • Get involved with research
    • Become comfortable recording and managing data by participating in research projects for local colleges or universities, environmental non-profits, or your local government. 
  • Learn your marine species
    • Although your college will likely offer taxonomy and identification courses, you can get a head start by learning how to identify ocean fishes and other marine species.
  • Go fishing! 
    • If you have access, get comfortable being on boats and handling fish.

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