Beginner’s Breakthrough: Unlocking Success in Commercial Fishing

How to Get Started in Commercial Fishing


Are you looking for an exciting and fulfilling career that allows you to work outdoors? Commercial fishing might just be the perfect fit for you! Whether you dream of cruising through open waters or reeling in a bountiful catch, getting started in this industry can be both challenging and rewarding. In this blog post, we will guide you through the essential steps to kickstart your commercial fishing journey.

Educate Yourself about Commercial Fishing

Prior to diving into the deep depths of commercial fishing, it is crucial to equip yourself with knowledge about the industry. Research various types of fish commonly caught commercially, different methods employed by fishermen, and specific regulations governing your desired region. Online forums, books written by seasoned fishermen, and documentary films are excellent resources for gaining insights into this dynamic field.

Obtain Necessary Licenses and Certifications

To legally engage in commercial fishing activities, acquiring appropriate licenses and certifications is mandatory. Visit your local fisheries office or maritime authority website to understand the requirements applicable within your jurisdiction. These typically include completion of safety courses such as First Aid at Sea and obtaining a commercial fishing license issued by relevant authorities.

Fishing Vessel Operator Certification:

If your aspirations lie beyond being a deckhand or crew member and extend towards captaining a vessel, pursuing a Fishing Vessel Operator Certification should be on your radar. This certification demonstrates competency as a vessel operator while ensuring adherence to safety guidelines during operations.

CPR/First Aid Certification:

An unavoidable aspect of working at sea is encountering emergencies where immediate medical attention may be required. Obtaining CPR/First Aid certification provides vital skills necessary not only for personal safety but also for assisting fellow crew members during unforeseen situations.

Secure Employment with a Commercial Fishing Company

One of the most effective ways to enter the commercial fishing industry is by seeking employment with an established fishing company. Begin by exploring local job boards, maritime websites, or networking platforms where fishermen often advertise vacancies. Emphasize your passion for this field in your cover letter and highlight any relevant experience you may have, even if it’s volunteering or recreational fishing.

Gaining Experience as a Deckhand:

If you are new to commercial fishing, starting as a deckhand offers invaluable hands-on experience while learning from experienced crew members. While responsibilities may initially involve tasks such as cleaning decks and baiting hooks, dedication and hard work can lead to more skilled roles over time.

Apprenticeships or Mentorships:

In some regions, apprenticeship programs or mentorship opportunities exist to bridge the gap between aspiring fishermen and professional crews. These programs provide structured training under the guidance of seasoned fishers who impart their knowledge on techniques specific to the local waters.

Purchase Essential Gear and Equipment

To excel in commercial fishing, having appropriate gear and equipment is essential. Basic items include foul-weather clothing, rubber boots with non-slip soles for traction on wet surfaces, sturdy gloves for handling heavy ropes or slippery fish, protective eyewear against water spray or flying debris, and reliable waterproof bags for storing personal belongings while at sea. Additionally,
a good quality knife suitable for cutting ropes or processing fish is also indispensable onboard.

Fishing Gear:

The type of fishing gear required depends on your chosen method(s), such as trawling nets or longlines. Familiarize yourself with different types of gear used within your target fishery before making any purchases. Consider seeking advice from experienced fishermen or reputable suppliers to ensure you invest in the right equipment.

Navigation and Communication Equipment:

Given that commercial fishing often involves venturing far from shore, having reliable navigation and communication equipment is vital for a safe voyage. Essential items may include GPS devices, marine radios, compasses, electronic charts, and emergency beacons like EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) or PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons).

Develop Physical Fitness and Endurance

Commercial fishing is physically demanding work that requires strength, stamina, and agility. Prior to embarking on your career journey, focus on improving your overall fitness levels through regular exercise routines tailored toward building core strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Cross-training Exercises:

Incorporate exercises such as swimming, jogging/running for endurance training; weightlifting or resistance training for developing muscular strength; yoga or pilates for flexibility improvement; and balance-focused activities like stand-up paddleboarding to enhance stability onboard.

Maintain Safety Awareness

Safety should always remain paramount while engaged in commercial fishing activities. Familiarize yourself with safety protocols specific to the type of fishing you’ll pursue. Stay updated with weather forecasts before venturing out at sea to avoid unexpected storms. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs), hard hats when working on deck under heavy equipment, as well as steel-toed boots during potentially hazardous operations.


Kicking off a successful career in commercial fishing requires dedication, perseverance,
a thirst for knowledge about the industry’s ins-and-outs.
Educate yourself about different fish species,
pursue necessary licenses/certifications,
secure employment with a reputable company,
invest in essential gear and equipment,
and focus on developing physical fitness while prioritizing safety at all times.
By following these steps, you will be well on your way to fulfilling your dreams of becoming a commercial fisherman.

So, hoist your sails and set off on this incredible journey that awaits you!