Employment on Factory Fishing Boats Offshore

The fishing industry in Alaska is a diverse business encompassing everything from giant factory trawlers with crews of over 100 workers to small two-man gillnetting boats. To a large degree, the type of job, size of boat, and job-search strategies are determined by the vessel’s target fish. For this reason, this section is organized by type of fish to help you decide where and when to go and how to find a job.

The newest – and until recently, fastest-growing – segment of the industry includes the large factory trawlers and factory longliners. These ships specialize in groundfish such as pollock, sablefish, and cod, and employ large crews of engineers, cooks, fishermen, and processing workers. These vessels offer a combination of fishing and processing jobs, and are a great entry-level opportunity for someone interested in eventually getting a fishing job.

Alaska Map from Space

The smaller fishing boat crews consist of two to six people and specialize mostly in salmon. The two most common salmon boats, purse seiners and gillnetters, usually fish close to land and river mouths to take advantage of the concentrations of salmon as they prepare to migrate upstream to spawn during spring and summer. Positions on these boats are more difficult to find if you’ve never fished before, so they require a thorough job search. Many people also break into this industry by first obtaining an onshore Alaska seafood processing job and then moving to a deckhand position when one opens up.

Other employers in the offshore fishing industry include giant floating processors (which process but don’t catch fish) and tenders (which deliver fish to land and offshore processors). Additionally, pot boats (which catch crab and bottomfish) and longliners (which catch halibut and other groundfish) employ six to 20 crew members. Alaska’s waters also harbor a thriving fleet of smaller trawler boats which catch groundfish but do not process them.

For more detailed information about all these fishing vessels, methods, and job-search strategies, check under the specific fish species covered in this section.

For a complete list of all fishing vessels and catcher/processor vessels licensed to fish in Alaska, along with detailed profiles for each, go to www.AlaskaJobFinder.com.


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