Medical and General Suitability Standards


Each Fishery Officer must be capable of monitoring fishing operations and performing enforcement activities in two different environments. Some individuals are primarily land-based and other individuals are primarily sea-based but each employee in this group must be able to perform in either environment.

Fishery Officers must be capable of prolonged periods of activity with no significant outside resources.

Fishery Officers must be able to observe at a distance and identify individuals in order to testify concerning a case and therefore must have good vision, colour vision and hearing.

Vision and Hearing are also important from safety and security perspectives.

Land-Based Portion

Land-based Fishery Officers are tasked with monitoring and reporting on fishing activities using a variety of surveillance techniques, including aerial surveillance and on-site observation.

Officers travel by and operate all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motor vehicles and small boats. For many operations, walking significant distances (up to one (1) mile) over rough terrain is required. Direct observation is often conducted from cover in rough terrain over prolonged periods and at all hours of the day and night. These employees wear soft body armour (weighing some 7-10 lbs.) and carry 12-14 lbs. of equipment. Additional dry clothes may be carried on some operations. Employees may be exposed to harsh weather conditions for many hours.

Their duties require good vision in a variety of lighting conditions; night vision apparatus may be used. Good peripheral vision is required for safety and operational reasons. These employees also require good hearing which include directional sense.

Suspects often flee and the Fishery Officer pursue them on foot, restraining and subduing them, potentially with the use of pepper spray and small arms.

After an arrest, it may be necessary to carry "the evidence" for significant distances over rough ground and up steep slopes.

Sea-Based Portion

In the sea-based portion of their duties, Fishery Officers may operate small vessels or accompany seamen on larger vessels for periods of up to 28 days continuously. They operate lightweight inflatable boats, potentially in high winds and rough seas during boarding operations.

A typical boarding virtually involves climbing a rope ladder onto a pitching vessel which can be expected to have slippery decks. These boardings may be resisted. It is important that the Fishery Officers be able to move about rapidly on the boarded vessel in order to ensure that evidence is not destroyed. Vessel inspections at sea have on occasion lasted u to several days.

Fishery Officers wear survival suits in case they fall into the water during boarding. They may be armed with submachine guns and even operate heavy machine guns on some vessels.

Land and Sea-Based

Physical strength, co-ordination and agility are therefore requirements of these positions.

Land and sea-based employees are required to participate in a limited physical fitness assessment program which tests cardiovascular fitness for the significant physical demands of the job (significant METS) as well as upper body strength and agility.

Occupational Requirements


  • Must be capable of identifying objects/persons at a distance and detecting signal lights/navigation lights
  • Must have good peripheral Vision and depth perception. Must have good night vision.


  • Must understand voice communication by speaking, shouting or radio, often with background noise.

Colour Vision

  • Must be able to discriminate colours.


  • Must have normal strength, co-ordination and balance.
  • Must have good manual dexterity in order to use pepper spray, baton, firearms and handcuffs.
  • Must be able to lift and carry heavy loads (20 kg unassisted) over rough ground and uphill.


  • Must have an adequate cardiovascular reserve for dealing with high degrees of physical activity in adverse weather conditions and/or during stressful operations.


  • Must not have significant mental health problems which would preclude being issued a firearm and/or which would preclude safely carrying out enforcement duties.
  • Must not have a mental health condition which results in aggressive response in a stressful situation.


  • Must not suffer from a condition which could result in sudden incapacitation.
  • Must not have a medical condition which is likely to require emergency medical care.

Advisory Requirements

Should not have peripheral vascular disease including Raynaud's Disease or Berger's Disease as these workers are often called upon to work for prolonged periods in harsh weather conditions.

Examination Guidelines

Examination Preplacement Periodic
Medical Examination Category(*1) III III, every 3 years up to age 39
Every 2 years age 40-54, one year thereafter
Mental Health Assessment(*2) Yes Yes
Visual Acuity(*3)(*4) Class 0 Class 0
Colour Vision(*4) Class 2 Class 2
Hearing(*5) HINT HINT
Mantoux Skin Test Yes No
Assessment of Exposed Skin for UV related changes Yes Yes
*1 Assessment to include questionnaire related to risk for cardiovascular disease.
*2 To be carried out by examiner who should refer to a psychiatrist as required.
*3 Glasses and hard or soft contact lenses are acceptable provided the person meets the uncorrected standard.
*4 Refer to Vision Standards - An Overview.
*5 HINT (Hearing in noise test). Refer to Frequently Asked Questions - Hearing Test for the Fishery Officer Position.

Immunization Recommended

  • Hepatitis B
  • Td


1. Acuity

Adequate vision is necessary for a wide variety of jobs in the public service. Vision is relied upon more heavily than any of the other senses, and there is a strong correlation between visual acuity and labour efficiency. Decreased acuity is usually first detected by the affected individual who would then seek help. The likelihood of finding unrecognized changes in visual acuity is dependent on the age of the worker, the presence of refractive errors, family history of eye disease, or other ocular pathology.

Class 0
Corrected Vision 6/9* in Better Eye, 6/15 in Other Eye, Uncorrected Vision at least 6/60 in Each Eye

Class 1
Corrected Vision 6/9 in Better Eye, 6/15 in Other Eye (exception permitted for other Eye in those situations outlined in No.2 “Substandard Vision in One Eye.”) Where an exception clause has been used, it must be documented.

Class 2
Corrected Vision 6/9 in One Eye (i.e., monocular vision).

2. Substandard Vision in one Eye - Exception

Where a worker has congenital substandard vision in one eye (corrected vision in Better Eye is 6/9 but in other eye is less than 6/15 but is at least 6/60), the worker will be considered as meeting the requirements including those for safety sensitive jobs (e.g., operating vehicles, use of a firearm, etc.) where the worker meets the following conditions:

  1. The employee has undertaken an eye examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist whose report indicates that the visual acuity in the better eye meets Class I and corrected vision in Other Eye is at least 6/60;
  2. Visual fields meet standard of 120°;
  3. The ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s opinion includes a statement to the effect that visual defect is unlikely to interfere with safe performance of duties considering pathogenesis of the condition, visual fields, stereopsis, depth perception, etc.;
  4. An ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s report will be required annually if the condition causing the reduced vision is not stable.

*6/9 is metric. This can be expressed as 20/30 in feet. 6/15 is equivalent to 20/50.

3. Visual Fields

  1. The Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety states that one-eyed people have very good monocular space perceptions and may be employed in nearly all occupations, if all other visual qualities are normal, and if they have been one-eyed for more than two years (2).
  2. A limited number of occupations require full visual fields in both eyes, e.g., 120°.
  3. Visual fields at a minimum should be tested using Confrontation screening method by examiner and where a defect is noted either a Goldman Test and/or a referral to an eye specialist.

4. Colour Vision

  1. The ability to discriminate colours results from the proper interaction of the red, green and blue retinal systems. Normal colour vision is described as trichromatic. When one of the systems is missing, vision is called dichromatic. Complete colour blindness-black-white vision - is monochromatic. Dichromacy can involve red, green or blue defects referred to as protanopia, deuteranopia and tritanopia respectively.
  2. Colour vision defects are inherited by approximately 8% of men. The most commonly detected problem, anomalous trichromacy, causes varying degrees of loss of colour vision ranging from almost none to complete dichromacy of one of the primary colours. Inherited green defects are the most prevalent; blue defects are extremely rare.
  3. Colour discrimination is age dependent, peaking at about age 20, declining slightly after age 35, and markedly after age 55. Blue-green vision is most affected by age as the yellowing of the aging crystalline lens absorbs blue light. Eye diseases such as diabetes or glaucoma can also decrease colour vision, as can numerous drugs in common use. Repeat testing in those jobs requiring precise colour vision may thus be necessary. Testing every 6 (six) years from age 40 has been suggested as a way to identify acquired colour vision defects. However, a congenital colour vision defect doesn’t change with time and an acquired colour vision defect is usually asymmetric and proceeded by a change in visual acuity (secondary to optic nerve and retinal disease). Therefore, colour vision only changes when visual acuity changes and there is no need for periodic testing of colour vision unless vision screening shows changes in best corrected visual acuity of at least two lines, e.g., 6/9 to 6/15.
  4. Colour vision testing is only appropriate for those occupations where a defect would result in an injury to the worker, or to others or would severely limit work performance. In almost every job one can envision situations where colour discrimination would be an asset. Colour blind people however can perform some colour-related tasks by using visual clues similar to recognizing traffic lights by position. A detailed assessment of colour vision and colour vision requirements for various jobs has been performed.
  5. Colour vision is tested using the Standard Ishihara Test (detects a colour vision deficit). Where a worker fails the Ishihara Test, they are to be tested using the Farnsworth D-15 Test (detects the specific type of colour blindness.) A worker who passes the Farnsworth D-15 Test is considered to meet standards for all tasks, work or jobs with colour vision requirements including safety sensitive transportation occupations. In all transportation occupations, a worker who fails both the Ishihara Test and the Farnsworth D-15 is considered to meet the medical requirements if they can successfully complete the Holmes-Wright Colour Lantern Test. Note: The Fishery Officer position is not considered a transportation occupation.

5. Colour Vision Standards

Class 1
Colour Vision Normal (CVN); passes Ishihara test

Class 2
Colour Vision Acceptable (CVA); fails Class 1 but passes Farnsworth D-15 Colour Vision Test. For transportation occupations, if a worker fails Farnsworth D-15 Test a pass on the Holmes-Wright Lantern Test (practical test) will be accepted.

6. Colour Vision Frequency of Testing

Should be done pre-placement. There is no need for periodic testing of colour vision unless there is a significant change in visual acuity (e.g., person “needs new glasses” or there is a change in best corrected visual acuity of 2 lines or more e.g. from 6/9 to 6/15).

What is the standard for hearing?
The hearing standard measures whether a person has the set of hearing abilities to enable them to perform their normal daily work activities that require hearing – focusing on those activities for which hearing is critical.

How is the hearing standard measured?
Ability to meet the hearing standard is assessed using two tests, the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT), and the Sound Azimuth in Noise Test (SAINT).

What is the HINT?
The Hearing in Noise Test – commonly referred to as HINT, measures an individual’s ability to understand speech in noise, at various levels. In the test, short simple sentences are presented at various levels with and without background noise and participants are instructed to repeat what they hear.

What is the SAINT?
The Sound Azimuth in Noise Test – commonly referred to as SAINT, measures an individual’s ability to detect and localize sound. During the test, individuals are asked to indicate when they hear a pistol shot and the direction from which the shot originated.

How are the HINT and SAINT tests administered?
Both the HINT and SAINT tests are administered by a Health Canada physician or nurse as part of the candidate’s Health Canada medical.

The participants are required to wear earphones for both tests. For the HINT, the participants must repeat to the administrator, the simple sentences that they hear through the earphones. For the SAINT, the participants must indicate to the administrator from which direction they hear a pistol shot.

How long are the HINT and SAINT tests?
The HINT and SAINT tests, on average, take approximately thirty minutes to complete.

Where are the HINT and SAINT tests administered?
The HINT and SAINT tests are currently administered by Health Canada in major centers across Canada.

How can I prepare myself for the tests?
There is no studying required to be successful with the HINT and SAINT. It is important to note that, in some instances, participants loose their concentration during the test therefore it is imperative to remain focused throughout the entire test.

It is essential that, during the HINT test, the participants repeat exactly what is said, word-for-word.

It is recommended that the participants not be subjected to loud and noisy environments between 12 and 24 hours prior to the administration of the HINT and SAINT tests.