What Do Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Do?
Seafood is unique in that it is one of the only types of food that is still regularly taken from the wild. Although some types of fish are farmed for human consumption, fishers and related fishing workers harvest fish from oceans, rivers or lakes. They work on all kinds of vessels, small and large. They may be out fishing for part of the day, seasonally or for several days at a time.The number of jobs in this field may be declining. Only 630 positions are expected to open up each year, which constitutes 5 percent fewer fishing jobs over 10 years. However, a few states are expecting increases of 5 to 10 percent.
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Skills and Abilities
You’ll have to have a background knowledge in food production and food safety in order to properly handle your catch. You’ll also need to learn about geography and vessel operations, since this job is performed aboard a water vessel. Physical fitness and stamina are other important requirements, because hard physical labor is involved.
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Duties
You could have a wide range of duties as a fisher, since you will probably start as a deckhand or assistant and have the opportunity to move up to mate, captain or business owner. The occupation of fishing involves both the harvesting of fish and general vessel operations, including:
- Locating fish
- Sorting the catch and throwing back unusable specimens
- Packing fish in ice and salt
- Lowering and pulling up nets and other equipment
- Baiting hooks
- Working as a team to move heavy loads
- Coordinating with crew to work efficiently
- Loading and unloading supplies
- Using environmental cues, such as weather conditions and sea state, to inform your decisions about where to fish
- Navigating and steering the vessel
- Operating small boats in cooperation with the main fishing vessel
- Selling your catch to local buyers and others
- Managing payments, including proceeds from sales and employee compensation
- Maintaining the vessel, equipment and gear
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Tools and Technology
The tools you will use to fish will vary depending on whether your vessel uses nets, lines or traps. You might use float lines, groundlines, seine nets or cast nets. You may also use crab pots, lobster pots or eel traps, if that’s what you’re fishing for. Technology may include digital logbooks, navigation software and weather-related software.
Education and Training for Fishers and Related Fishing Workers
Most employers do not require a high school diploma when hiring fishing workers. You don’t even need experience to begin, since most of the training for this career is done on-the-job. Once you learn the basic operations, you may be able to begin training for another role onboard the same vessel.
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Salary
Most fishers earn between $10 and $30 per hour, or $21,000 to $63,700 per year. The median earnings are $16.95 per hour, or $35,300 per year. Depending on the vessel and the geographic area, room and board may be included, or you may be offered part of the catch. If you are helping passengers on a sports fishing trip, you may also receive tips.
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Jobs by Geography
The states with the most workers in the fishing trade are Washington, Oregon and Virginia, but Washington has the highest number by far, with 6,240 fishers employed. That is nearly 20 percent of the nation’s 31,300 fishers. The states of Washington, Alaska and California have the highest median wage in this field, ranging from $14.97 to $21.60 per hour. When looking for a job in the fishing industry, Washington State is a good place to start.