A Career in Fishing

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The fishing industry offers a wealth of adventure and the potential to earn excellent wages. The industry also offers great personal and professional development, and further career progression. The sea is a challenging and exciting working environment, worlds away from a ‘normal’ 9-5 desk job – tides, weather, seasons and the fish themselves ensure that no two days are ever the same. A career at sea can be financially rewarding, but it’s also valuable in many other ways. You’ll learn key technical and practical seafaring skills, and – just as importantly – your work as part of a close-knit crew will help you develop skills for life, such as team-building skills, resilience and dedication. The practical skills you learn and the experience will be highly relevant to any further career choice, making you extremely employable whatever you chose to do. It’s also worth noting that fishing crew members often benefit from good periods of time off, as often crews work two trips and have one off.





You can enter the fishing industry via an apprenticeship or by applying directly to local businesses. There are various roles available, but typically you’ll start as a deckhand at sea and learn on the job. Before going to sea for the first time, you must complete a Sea Survival course; mandatory basic safety courses in Firefighting, Health and Safety and First Aid must also be completed within three months of starting work. These courses are offered at several training centres locally. To learn more, Seafish training is a good place to start: www.seafish.org/safety-and-training/. Seafish may also be able to help new entrants to the industry access funding for these courses.



If you’re looking for a professional qualification and a structured course, South Devon College runs an 18-month Fishing Apprenticeship, with the first intake in 2023. Click here for details:



The role of deckhand is the standard entry point for those with limited experience and qualifications. Deckhand responsibilities include preparing the deck areas and fishing equipment onboard the vessel; sorting, gutting and storing the catch; unloading the catch when in harbour; repairing damaged nets; and maintaining equipment. A good level of fitness is important, as the work is physically demanding, and you will be working in all weathers. You’ll also need to be prepared to spend nights away from home.



A minimum of 18 months’ seagoing experience is needed before you can skipper a fishing vessel – employers will require you to have a solid knowledge of the sea, fishing vessels and the fishing industry. Skippers are in charge of the crew onboard sea-going boats, and typical duties include planning fishing trips; operating and maintaining equipment; navigating the vessel; managing the safety of the vessel and crew; working closely with onshore agents to land and sell catches; making sure that fishing trips return a profit; making sure that each fishing trip follows maritime laws and international fishing regulations; using electronic systems for navigation and locating fish; and monitoring onboard storage conditions. Fishing vessel skippers work on different types of boats, including inshore vessels, which fish close to the shoreline, and limited-area vessels, which fish within a set area around the UK coast. Skipper is a well-paid role, with a larger share of the catch earned as your career progresses from deckhand to skipper



Working to look after our seas. We collect fishing data for policy makers. This data informs plans for fishing, catch limits and quotas to ensure stocks remain sustainable. We also support Fishing for Litter (FFL), an environmental project. FFL aims to reduce marine litter by involving the fishing industry in actively collecting and removing the rubbish gathered in their nets during normal fishing activities, including plastics, ghost gear, textiles and other debris. FFL provides vessels with bags to store this rubbish in while at sea, and places skips and bins in ports to receive the rubbish when the vessel returns to land.



The UK fishing industry has an improving safety record. The safety of our crews is paramount at Waterdance. We carry out regular maintenance and improvements to all our vessels to ensure they are seaworthy and comply with the latest regulations especially for crew living standards, ensuring optimally designed living space and greater comfort. Each vessel is fitted with equipment to locate vessels in an emergency and each member of the crew are also given their own Personal Locator Beacons enabled life jacket.