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There are 4 positions that can be held as a fisherman. The Captain is responsible for overseeing the ordering of equipment, maintenance of the ship, location of fishing grounds, sale of the catch, and overall operation of the ship. He is also in charge of the navigation of the ship and needs to know how to use a compass, sextant, charts, and Trigonometry. The second in command is the First Mate, who is the Captains assistant, needs to know how to navigate the vessel, directs the Deckhands, and takes over for the Captain when he is off duty. The Boatswain is a very experienced and responsible deckhand who directs the loading of the ship, repairs some equipment, and operates the fishing equipment. The Deckhands unload the catch, clean the ship, and assist in bringing in the fish. There is no formal training program for becoming a Fisherman, but some colleges offer 2 year vocational programs in this field that could help a beginning fisherman land a job. Some colleges also offer courses in seamanship, vessel operations, marine safety, navigation, vessel repair and maintenance, health emergencies, and fishing gear technology. For certain positions on some vessels you may need to take math courses for navigation or business courses to gain management positions. Most Captains are self-employed and so the other employees on their vessel work for them. Most Fishers earn between $300 and $750 a week but the work and the pay is not regular. Most are paid a predetermined percentage of what the entire vessel made, with the captain usually receiving 50% of the total profits. Although he makes the most he is also financially responsible for all equipment, repairs, and licensing of the boat.

Image courtesy of
World Wide Fishing Guide

Image used with permission of
National Marine Fisheries Service

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Additional Links


United States Coast Guard

US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook

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