Fishery Officer Career: Work Description

GT-04 Fishery Officer

Client-Service Results

Provide awareness, monitoring and enforcement services to Canadians for the conservation and protection of the fishery resources and fish habitat and for the protection of the public from the consumption of contaminated shellfish.

Provide assistance to other enforcement agencies in coordinated efforts to enforce the law.

Key Activities

Carry out compliance inspections, investigation activities and enforcement of the various Fisheries-related Act and Regulations that govern fishing activity in the aboriginal, commercial, recreational and international fisheries and protect the fish habitat and the aquatic environment. Arrest and detain offenders and carry out seizures.

Acting in the capacity of patrol officer or lead investigator, lead a team of Fishery Officers, search for, gather, analyze and validate forensic evidence in order to solve current and major cases, prepare court briefs, prepare and execute other court documents e.g. search warrants; provide advice to Crown Counsel in the prosecution of violation cases; act as crown and/or expert witness in court.

Participate in the planning and conduct overt and covert patrols by foot, vehicle, program vessel, CCG vessels, fixed and rotary winged aircraft, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.

Participate in the priority setting, monitor, investigate and gather intelligence and/or conduct audits and collect information on fishing and habitat-related activities to provide status reports on harvest activities, habitat degradation or other major events to supervisor, fish/habitat managers including the Science Sector of the Department.

Promote stewardship of the fisheries resources and fish habitat among the private and public sector industries that may impact on fisheries resources, fish habitat and the general public.

Develop components of training programs, plan, train, mentor, lead and evaluate new recruits, colleagues and enforcement partners, and train individuals from other enforcement agencies and/or public organizations.

Act as a senior departmental liaison in communities and sole representative of Federal Departments in remote communities.

Provide expertise and assist, as required, other federal (e.g. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Wildlife Service), provincial, local and international enforcement agencies in fulfilling their mandate.

Plan, coordinate, develop and deliver public education and awareness presentations for the public and stakeholders.

Manage and deliver response to small-scale crisis situations, ensuring coordination, operational liaison and communication in support of field operations as well as providing negotiation and consultation expertise to the parties in a dispute.

Assist in planning the work.


The position requires a sound knowledge of:

Acts, Orders and Regulations that govern fishing activity in the aboriginal, commercial and recreational fisheries and protect the fish habitat and the aquatic environment.

Acts and Regulations enforced by other agencies when a memorandum of understanding exists with DFO for their enforcement by Fishery Officers (e.g. Canadian Wildlife Service).

Acts and Regulations that affect the collection and release of sensitive enforcement information and the nature and delivery of enforcement programs. Proper application of authority and obligations is essential to offer professional service, mitigate departmental liability and/or embarrassment for senior management.

Canada Labour Code, departmental policies and procedures.

International Acts, Treaties, Fishing Plans, Fishing Agreements and Protocols with First Nation as they pertain to the safe delivery of enforcement actions associated with domestic and/or international fisheries inside and outside the 200 mile limit programs.

Memoranda of Understanding, protocols with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Department of National Defense, the Canadian Wildlife Service and other departments and agencies to participate in collaborative enforcement operations and emergency response situations; international protocols and prohibitions where joint international patrols and/or enforcement activities are carried out.

Marine and freshwater fisheries biology/ecology to be able to understand the conservation objectives and contents of fisheries and habitat management plans.

Fishing techniques, aids to navigation, fishing gear, fishing vessel hold layouts, fishing license conditions and logbooks used by the various resource harvesters to be able to effectively and safely carry out enforcement and detect violations.

Installation and monitoring of tracking devices and other such surveillance equipment.

The operations of urban and industrial facilities such as pulp mills, sewage facilities, logging operations, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, highway or hydro projects subject to regulation under fish habitat legislation, and to know how to safely monitor these operations and safely collect evidence of violations.

Domestic and international fishing related business and an extensive understanding of the external environment including the political, socio-economic and cultural concerns. Understanding how decisions or actions such as seizing vessels, vehicles, fish catches, equipment, issuing stop work orders (fish habitat) and/or forensic investigations (e.g.: shutting down fish plant operation) impact on domestic and/or international industries/companies/organizations, individuals and/or communities and on the Department’s ability to fulfill its mandate.

Investigative techniques used in interviewing witnesses and accused persons associated with forensic investigations on major cases, computer forensics, accounting procedures and bookkeeping practices specific to the fishing industry to ensure the evidence gathered will support the prosecution in court. Fishery Officer training in this area is equivalent to an RCMP investigator.

Principles, procedures, judicial processes associated with criminal and civil law, and how the rules of evidence apply to enforcement activities when gathering the necessary evidentiary elements to establish a strong case for prosecution.

Fishery Officer authority as a Peace Officer under the Criminal Code of Canada when enforcing the Fisheries-related Acts, Orders and Regulations.

Techniques, practices and devices required for the safe operation of vessels and various patrol vehicles during the day, at night and in periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, snow) for activities such as pursuit, armed boarding, towing of vessels, and roadblocks for vehicles.

Principles and techniques of the Incident Management/Intervention Model to ensure the safety of the Officer, colleagues and the public in the application of the Use of Force Continuum. Situations vary widely in intensity and can go from cooperative behaviour to the necessity for the application of lethal force to protect the officer, colleague or member of the public from grievous bodily harm or death. The officer must consider independently the entire use of force continuum options at a given time and choose the proper response based on training, experience and circumstances. There is a requirement to possess the qualifications to handle and use firearms.

Departmental mandate, objectives/organizational structures and the various roles and responsibilities of each regionally and nationally, how they affect the role of the work unit and enforcement and compliance activities and priorities associated with fisheries and fish habitat.

The role and responsibilities of third party contractors required in support of monitoring and enforcement activities.


Verbal and writing skills to interview suspects and witnesses, prepare court briefs and documents related to enforcement operations; to present testimony in court for major investigations; provide persuasive arguments to gain the acceptance of individuals, client groups, heads of corporations, their legal counsel and the general public, who may have differing views regarding enforcement management, and to gain their acceptance on Departmental strategies and policies regarding fisheries and habitat management.

Computer skills to be able to deftly work on several computer programs and electronic documents in order to investigate, gather and link different pieces of evidence.

Verbal, writing and computer skills to conduct of education/information sessions for client groups to provide a better understanding of DFO conservation and protection objectives, programs and priorities; to explain Acts, regulations, policies, fisheries and habitat management plans and how they relate to the issues at hand.

Verbal skills and powers of persuasion are required to deliver response to small scale crisis situations, and to provide negotiation and consultation expertise to settle disputes.


Intellectual effort is required to:

Interpret, analyze and assess situations, decides on crucial evidence to be collected, and determine the best course of enforcement action.

Analyze intelligence, observations, witness statements, documents and pictures in order to identify enforcement issues and prepare court briefs.

Collect and present data from diverse sources in a coherent, logical and chronological sequence of events surrounding a violation in order to convince a Court of law.

Investigate, analyze and interpret investigative evidence from diverse sources. Assess measures to be taken and appropriate means of conducting further inquiry in order to strengthen the cases. Prepare and execute search warrants to avoid the loss or deterioration of evidence. Prepare violation reports, court briefs, prepare and execute court documents.

Search for and gather information on fishing activities such as catches to date, species composition of catch to provide status reports on harvest activities. Collect information on habitat-related activities such as observations on levels of compliance.

Use effective media techniques to develop and adapt educational displays by selecting audience appropriate interactive objects and materials. Provide advice and guidance to junior officers on fabrication and installation of the display promoting to the public, interest groups and industry, Departmental objectives for resource protection, conservation and stewardship.

Analyze proposed fisheries and habitat management plans and provide advice and recommendations as to the practicality and enforceability of management measures (e.g. license conditions) and on alternative approaches to improve the effectiveness of enforcement operations.

Provide input on success or failure of enforcement activities; recommend alternative strategies for improving the effectiveness of enforcement plans, surveillance activities, fishery and habitat management plans and co-management accords.

As the primary advisor to Crown Counsel, provide advice, guidance and direction in the prosecution of violation cases; present evidence in court as the arresting officer, crown and/or expert witness.

Design and develop training and education material for employees, the public and private stakeholders.

Continually interpret, analyze, re-assess and make immediate serious decisions concerning the appropriate enforcement response given the circumstances or when the safety of an Officer, a colleague or someone from the public is potentially threatened, which could require the use of the continuum of force up to and including the use of deadly force.

Surveillance operations require sustained concentration and focus for long periods.

Physical Effort

The work requires daily physical effort to lift and move heavy departmental equipment (i.e.: ATV, ski-doo etc), seized fishing gear and/or fish weighing in excess of 20 kilograms.

The work has a daily requirement to climb ladders while wearing/carrying law enforcement material and personal protective gear (weighing 20 kg), conducting boarding’s or traveling over long distances and/or on hazardous terrain in all types of weather.

The work requires physical effort in apprehending and subduing violators.

The work requires remaining in static position for long periods and in sometimes very difficult conditions while driving or operating a program vessel, conducting surveillance and/or while working in the office at a computer terminal.


Human Resources

Lead the enforcement activities of junior Fishery Officers, and provide on-the-job training/coaching and report on the progress of Fishery Officer trainees.

Provide inputs and make recommendations for establishing operational priorities and plans.


The decisions or actions such as seizing vessels, vehicles, fish catches, equipment, issuing stop work orders (fish habitat) and/or forensic investigations (e.g.: shutting down fish plan operation) have major financial impact on domestic and/or international industries/companies/organizations, individuals and/or communities.

Responsible for the safe keeping and continuity of any cash/assets that may be seized during the course of enforcement operations. Collect unpaid fines.

Make purchases using a government-issued credit card.

In some remote areas, responsible for the collection of license fees.

Negotiate the best possible price for the sale of seized articles such as fish, fishing gear, etc.

Physical Assets and Products

Use and maintenance of vehicles, vessels, navigation equipment as well as personal enforcement equipment items used for enforcement activities i.e. side-arms, pepper spray, portable radio, etc.

Custody and protection of highly sensitive documents and integrity of evidence seized or gathered during forensic or major investigations to be used by the Crown during prosecutions.

Maintain work camps, recommend repairs or improvements to vehicles, vessels and various gear.

Working Conditions


There is constant exposure to noise, heat or cold, snow, rain, diesel fumes and dust engine noise. The work requires wearing cumbersome equipment when performing land, air and/or sea patrols that last for hours or days.

There is a risk to the Officer’s health when he/she is in contact with aggressive, violent and/or ill individuals (infectious diseases) on a regular basis while effecting arrests and performing enforcement activities.

The work has a daily requirement to climb ladders while carrying heavy personal protective gear (e.g. soft body armour)conducting boarding’s or transiting over significant distances on hazardous terrain.


The incumbent must deal with irregular and long working hours, multiple shift and scheduling changes and frequent long periods of physical isolation from family and community.

Must deal with confrontational and/or sensitive situations when taking enforcement action. Potential for serious accidents, injuries or illness due to the unpredictability of such situations. The incumbent must be mentally and emotionally prepared to use potentially deadly force. Potential for danger is especially high if the incumbent’s identity is discovered during the course of an infiltration operation.