Fishing Hand

Fishing hands or fishermen on a commercial fishing vessel or trawler usually operate as part of a crew that catches fish with different types of nets and prepares and processes the fish for sale.

Deep-sea fishermen need to provide for long stays at sea and be able to operate electronic equipment for communications and navigation. Individual fishermen usually work from small boats relatively close to land and return home in the evenings.

Big boat fishermen use heavy nets and need to anchor these securely. The nets are hauled in using mechanical winches and the catch is usually dumped on board, where it is sorted, cleaned and prepared for processing.

Other duties include repairing fishing nets and gear, observing instruments for sighting schools of fish, being on watch duty and cleaning the vessel.

Fishermen who work in the sport fishing industry specialise in line fishing. They work on vessels chartered by tourists and holidaymakers for fishing trips ranging from a few hours to a few days. These types of fishermen assist people who have chartered the vessel by locating game fish, baiting hooks, hauling and gaffing fish, cleaning, eviscerating and storing fish, navigating and cleaning the vessel.

One of the drawbacks of this industry is that the work is seasonal. Many fishermen take on other work in the low season, such as working in fish-processing plants or fishing-tackle retailers.

Personal Requirements

  • physically strong and in good health
  • mechanical aptitude for operating and repairing fishing equipment
  • perseverance, working long hours at sea
  • able to tolerate being away from family for long periods
  • able to work alone or as part of a crew
  • able to withstand cramped conditions for long periods
  • flexible and versatile to be able to take on any other crewmember’s duties

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

No specific requirements

What to Study

Fishermen are trained on the job to effectively perform their duties


  • commercial fishing companies
  • charter companies
  • self-employment - fishing offers good entrepreneurial possibilities: fishermen with the necessary capital for a vessel and equipment can open up their own commercial fishing company or charter company

Further Information

Any commercial fishing company.

Getting Started

  • develop an interest in fishing
  • try to get a vacation job in a fish-processing plant
  • speak to fishing hand about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer