Career Stream #1:
Harvesting Jobs in Alaska's Seafood Industry

Jobs on a Fishing Vessel

Captain: Alternate title: Skipper. Commands fishing vessel crew engaged in catching fish and other marine life and may be the owner of the vessel: Interviews, hires, and gives instructions to crew, and assigns crew to watches and quarters. Plots courses on navigation charts and computes positions, using standard navigation aids, such as compass, sextant, clock, radio fix, and navigation tables. Steers vessel and operates electronic equipment, such as radio, sonic depth finder, and radar. Directs fishing operations, using knowledge of fishing grounds and workload capacities of vessel and crew. Records daily activities in ship's log. May purchase supplies and equipment for boat, such as food, fuel, webbing, rope, and cable. May tow and maneuver fish barges at cannery wharf. May contact buyers and make arrangements for sale of catch. May buy fish for resale and be designated Buy-Boat Operator (fishing), or haul fish from other fishing vessels to cannery and be designated Captain, Cannery Tender (fishing).

Engineer/Deckhand: Acts as the engineer for the fishing vessel in addition to performing deckhand duties. Repairs and maintains deck machinery, such as cargo winches and anchor windlasses: Operates machinery to determine causes of malfunctioning. Dismantles, repairs, or replaces defective parts, and reassembles machinery, using machinist's hand tools, chain hoists, and steel rollers. May maintain ship's plumbing system. May change fuses and lights and overhaul electric motors. U.S. Coast Guard must endorse rating.

Deckhand: As a deckhand, performs any combination of following duties aboard fishing vessel: Stands lookout, steering, and engine-room watches. Attaches nets, slings, hooks, and other lifting devices to cables, booms, and hoists. Loads equipment and supplies aboard vessel by hand or using hoisting equipment. Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads. Rows boats and dinghies and operates skiffs to transport fishers, divers, and sponge hookers and to tow and position nets. Attaches accessories, such as floats, weights, and markers to nets and lines. Pulls and guides nets and lines onto vessel. Removes fish from nets and hooks. Sorts and cleans marine life and returns undesirable and illegal catch to sea. Places catch in containers and stow in hold and covers with salt and ice. Washes deck, conveyors, knives and other equipment, using brush, detergent, and water. Lubricates, adjusts, and makes minor repairs to engines and equipment. Secures and removes vessel's docking lines to and from docks and other vessels. Duties may include SKIFF OPERATOR: (Skiff operation may be duty of a deckhand aboard a seine fishing vessel for salmon.) Operates seine skiff to hold one end of purse seine in place while purse seine circles school of fish to set net. Holds purse seine away from ship during pursing and brailing operations. May splash water with pole, on opposite side of school away from purse seine, to prevent fish from escaping as fish are encircled by purse seine. May locate schools of fish sighted by other fishers.

Deck Boss/Deckhand: Acts as the lead deckhand on the fishing vessel, designated by the Captain. Performs any combination of following duties aboard fishing vessel: Stands lookout, steering, and engine-room watches. Attaches nets, slings, hooks, and other lifting devices to cables, booms, and hoists. Loads equipment and supplies aboard vessel by hand or using hoisting equipment. Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads. Rows boats and dinghies and operates skiffs to transport fishers, divers, and sponge hookers and to tow and position nets. Attaches accessories, such as floats, weights, and markers to nets and lines. Pulls and guides nets and lines onto vessel. Removes fish from nets and hooks. Sorts and cleans marine life and returns undesirable and illegal catch to sea. Places catch in containers and stow in hold and covers with salt and ice. Washes deck, conveyors, knives and other equipment, using brush, detergent, and water. Lubricates, adjusts, and makes minor repairs to engines and equipment. Secures and removes vessel's docking lines to and from docks and other vessels.

Cook/Deckhand: Cook on a fishing vessel in addition to being a deckhand on it. Alternate titles: cook, fishing vessel. Prepares meals for crew and officers on board fishing vessel or in shore fishery establishment. May assist in actual fishing. May purchase food supplies. If also performs deckhand duties, they include: Performs any combination of following duties aboard fishing vessel: Stands lookout, steering, and engine-room watches. Attaches nets, slings, hooks, and other lifting devices to cables, booms, and hoists. Loads equipment and supplies aboard vessel by hand or using hoisting equipment. Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads. Rows boats and dinghies and operates skiffs to transport fishers, divers, and sponge hookers and to tow and position nets. Attaches accessories, such as floats, weights, and markers to nets and lines. Pulls and guides nets and lines onto vessel. Removes fish from nets and hooks. Sorts and cleans marine life and returns undesirable and illegal catch to sea. Places catch in containers and stow in hold and covers with salt and ice. Washes deck, conveyors, knives and other equipment, using brush, detergent, and water. Lubricates, adjusts, and makes minor repairs to engines and equipment. Secures and removes vessel's docking lines to and from docks and other vessels.

Deckhand/Greenhorn: This is the least experienced deckhand on the fishing vessel and this person is paid the least percentage of catch due to lack of experience in catching fish. Performs any combination of following duties aboard fishing vessel: Stands lookout, steering, and engine-room watches. Attaches nets, slings, hooks, and other lifting devices to cables, booms, and hoists. Loads equipment and supplies aboard vessel by hand or using hoisting equipment. Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads. Rows boats and dinghies and operates skiffs to transport fishers, divers, and sponge hookers and to tow and position nets. Attaches accessories, such as floats, weights, and markers to nets and lines. Pulls and guides nets and lines onto vessel. Removes fish from nets and hooks. Sorts and cleans marine life and returns undesirable and illegal catch to sea. Places catch in containers and stow in hold and covers with salt and ice. Washes deck, conveyors, knives and other equipment, using brush, detergent, and water. Lubricates, adjusts, and makes minor repairs to engines and equipment. Secures and removes vessel's docking lines to and from docks and other vessels.

Types of Fish Harvesters in Alaska

FISHER, LINE: Catches fish and other marine life with hooks and lines, working alone or as member of crew: Lays out line and attaches hooks, bait, sinkers, and various anchors, floats, and swivels, depending on quarry sought. Puts line in water, and holds, anchors, or trolls (tows) line to catch fish. Hauls line onto boat deck or ashore by hand, reel, or winch, and removes catch. Stows catch in hold or boxes and packs catch in ice. May hit fish with club to stun it before removing it from hook. May fish with gaff to assist in hauling fish from water. May slit fish; remove viscera, and wash cavity to clean fish for storage. May steer vessel in fishing area. When fishing with line held in hand, is designated Fisher, Hand Line. When fishing with fixed line equipped with hooks hung at intervals on line, is designated according to whether line is trawl (anchored in water at both ends) as Fisher, Trawl Line; or trot (reaching across stream or from one bank) as Fisher, Trot Line. When fishing with line that is trolled, is designated Fisher, Troll Line.

FISHER, NET: Catches finfish, shellfish, and other marine life alone or as crewmember on shore or aboard fishing vessel, using equipment such as dip, diver, gill, hoop, lampara, pound, trap, reef, trammel, and trawl nets; purse seine; and haul, drag, or beach seine: Inserts and attaches hoops, rods, poles, ropes, floats, weights, beam runners, otter boards, and cables to form, reinforce, position, set, tow, and anchor net. Attaches flags and lights to buoys to identify net location. Puts net into water and anchors or tows net according to kind of net used, location of fishing area, and method of fishing. Hauls net to boat or ashore manually and using winch. Empties catch from net, using dip net, brail, buckets, hydraulic pump, and conveyor, and by lifting net, using block and tackle, and dumping catch. Stows catch in hold and containers, or transfers catch to base ship or buy boat. Fishing with some types of nets may be illegal in some states. May ride in skiff and hold end of net, as base ship discharges net, to surround school of fish or to pull net ends and trap fish. May sort and clean fish. May repair fishing nets and gear. May act as lookout or observe instruments to sight schools of fish. May be designated according to kind of net used as Fisher, Dip Net; Fisher, Diver Net; Fisher, Gill Net; Fisher, Hoop Net. May be designated: Fisher, Haul, Drag, Or Beach Seine; Fisher, Lampara Net; Fisher, Pound Net or Trap; Fisher, Purse Seine; Fisher Reef Net; Fisher, Trammel Net; Fisher, Trawl Net.

FISHER, POT: Fishes for marine life, including crab, eel, or lobster, using pots (cages with funnel-shaped net openings): Ties marker float to line, attaches line to pot, fastens bait inside pot, and lowers pot into water. Hooks marker float with pole and pulls up pot. Reaches through hinged door of pot to remove catch or dumps catch on deck. Measures catch with fixed gauge to ensure compliance with legal size. Places legal catch in container and tosses illegal catch overboard. Places peg in hinge of claws to prevent lobsters, in container, from killing each other. May rig and lower dredge (rake scoop with bag net attached), drag dredge behind boat to gather marine life from water bottom, and hoist it according to type of marine life fished for as Fisher, Crab; Fisher, Eel; Fisher, Lobster. May work alone or as member of crew.

FISHER, WEIR: alternate titles: fisher, trap. Constructs weirs of brush or netting to catch fish: Drives poles and stakes in channels at points of land extending into water, between islands, or in rapids to form circular or heart-shaped enclosure. Fastens stringers and weaves brush or netting horizontally between posts and stakes. Constructs lead of brush to deflect fish into trap. Removes fish from weir with purse seine. This method of fishing is considered illegal in some states when navigation and conservation are obstructed.

NET REPAIRER: alternate titles: rigger; web worker. Works on-shore as independent contractor to assembles and repairs nets on shore and aboard ship: Assembles, ties, and adjusts various webbing material, floats, weights, rings, and ropes to make gill nets, purse seines, reef nets, and trawls, using knife and twine-filled bobbin shuttle. Hoists net into ship's rigging to dry after fishing operations, using block and tackle, and repairs holes and tears in webbing. Gives direction to workers engaged in taking down nets. May retrieve lost nets from water. May participate in net fishing. Sometimes captains have their deckhand crew repair their own nets.

Dive Fishery Harvester - Alternate titles: hunter, skin diver There are growing dive fisheries in various parts of coastal Alaska to harvest sea urchins, geoduck clams, sea cucumbers, especially in Southeast Alaska. Collects and captures sea life specimens, such as shellfish, sea cucumbers, individually or as member of crew, using skin-diving equipment: Dives into sea and swims underwater to scout terrain and reach work area. Twists, cuts, and tears specimens, such as abalone, from surface to which attached, and places specimens in container. Signals boat crew to hoist container or net to surface.