Alaska Commercial Fishing Jobs

Jodee Redmond
Alaska Salmon Fishing Boat
expert checked

Alaska commercial fishing jobs include employment opportunities onboard oceangoing vessels, as well as jobs closer to shore. If you are looking for seasonal work that is as challenging as it is lucrative, you may want to consider investigating this work option further.

Finding Employment on Alaskan Fishing Boats

Crew positions on fishing boats don't open up often, and available jobs are often given to people the captain or boat owner knows. You may be able to find a job by visiting the docks before the fishing season starts to approach boat captains directly.

Other options include:

  • The Alaska Job Center Network, called ALEXsys is an excellent resource for applicants to find great job opportunities aboard Alaskan fishing boats. The site includes job listings, apprenticeships and job training information, among many other helpful items. The site connects visitors to job centers in Alaska that can help applicants find employment in specific regions
  • If your goal is to work on a floater, which is a floating fish processing vessel, the Anchorage Mid-Town Job Center has information about employment opportunities and job fairs which you can request by e-mail. It also has a toll-free job hotline number you can call to find out out openings.

About Alaska Commercial Fishing Jobs

Commercial fishing vessels range in size from 20-300 feet in length. The smaller boats stay closer to shore, but large fishing vessels may be operating up to 200 miles out at sea. During the summer fishing and processing season, most of the boats operate relatively close to shore and are fishing for salmon and herring.

Before you decide to apply for a job in this industry, you need to be aware that working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska is one of the most dangerous occupations that you can be involved in. The waters off the Alaskan coast are cold and can be treacherous. The possibility of having to navigate through storms and using the nets and equipment makes the boat a work environment that can be very hazardous.

If an accident occurs, expert medical attention is not likely to be readily available. Depending on where the boat is located and the weather conditions when the incident happens, it could be at least several hours before you could be transported to a hospital. Before accepting a contract to work on a commercial fishing vessel, be sure to ask about what safety equipment is on board and familiarize yourself with the safety rules.

License Required

A person who wants to work on board a boat must have a current commercial fishing license. Each crew member is responsible for obtaining this document, which is available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Equipment Needed

Crew members on board fishing vessels are expected to provide their own work clothing. Necessary items include:

  • Gloves
  • Rubber boots
  • Sleeping bag
  • Wet weather clothing
  • Wrist covers

The boat owner is responsible for providing other safety equipment, such as survival suits, for all crew members.

Floating Fish Processing Ships

Another choice available for people looking for Alaska commercial fishing job is to consider getting a position on board a floating fish processing vessel. These boats are known as "floaters" in the industry. The floaters take fish from fishers and get it ready for market.

Working Conditions

Alaska commercial fishing jobs are not for people who are hesitant about rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. You must be prepared to work long hours, in wet and cold conditions. There may be little to no privacy while working on the boat, and the ability to get along well with others is an important attribute.

During the height of the commercial fishing season, workers must be prepared to work as long as it takes to get the job done. Long hours are the norm, and the grueling schedule is a test of the workers' endurance.

Personal Attributes

Jobs in the commercial fishing industry are not a good fit for everyone. The type of person who will do well in this type of work needs to have the following attributes:

  • Ability to lift heavy objects
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Available to work for the entire season
  • Patience
  • Positive attitude
  • Tolerance
  • Willingness to work hard

Compensation

Crew members on commercial fishing vessels usually receive a share of the catch. A person who is just starting in the industry may receive between 1.5 and 10 percent of the gross value of the fish harvested during the season. Some boat owners pay a daily rate instead of offering a share to the crew. The details about how you will be compensated should be clearly spelled out before you start work.You may also be expected to contribute toward the cost of the following expenses as part of your obligation as a crew member:

  • Bait
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Ice

People who get jobs on floaters are usually paid an hourly wage for their work.

Patience and Diligence Are Key

Finding an Alaska fishing boat job does require some patience. Start your search early and be sure to reach out directly to boat captains in addition to applying for jobs via the resources provided above. Exploring different position options is a great way to begin your journey on an exciting career.

Alaska Commercial Fishing Jobs