Programs in fisheries science and management teach people about fish and shellfish populations and other communities of aquatic resources. Students learn how to conserve fish species, protect habitats, and place limits on harvesting. They study fish biology and ecosystems. They also learn how to breed fish and manage hatcheries.
Have you ever had pet fish living in an aquarium? If so, you probably had to clean it regularly. You might have scraped algae off the sides and changed the water. And if one of your fish was sick, you might have taken it out so that your other fish didn't become sick too.
These steps you took are small examples of fisheries management. Like any other community, fish populations need proper care and protection to ensure that they thrive rather than die out. Fisheries scientists and managers provide this care by studying properties of different fish species and their surroundings.
As a student in this program, you study fish from many different angles. On the scientific side of things, you learn about the physiology and behaviors of different fish. You learn what certain fish eat and which other fish eat them. You study different threats to fish populations such as diseases, pollution, and fishing.
From the management angle, you might study ways to combat these threats, such as farming fish to boost the supply or developing policies to minimize pollution. You could also learn how to work with different agencies to support the protection of fisheries.
A background in fisheries science and management prepares you for careers that benefit both marine life and human life. For example, you might work in an agency that enforces fishing regulations. This helps ensure that certain fish species don't become extinct; it also ensures that we can enjoy fish for many more years to come.
About 50 schools offer programs specifically in this field. You can typically earn a bachelor's, a master's, or a doctoral degree. However, every state has a land grant college that offers agricultural science programs. Some of these programs include courses in fisheries sciences and management.
In general, a bachelor's degree takes four years of full-time study after high school, and a master's about one to two years after that. A doctoral degree usually takes about three to five years on top of a master's degree.
At some schools, you select wildlife or natural resources management as your major and then concentrate in fisheries sciences and management.