What Does a Fisherman Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2019
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The specific job functions of a fisherman may change depending on what type of fish he is trying to catch, and from where he is operating. Boats are usually the primary vessel from which a fisherman will perform his job, and that person will be responsible for scouting fishing locations, hauling the fish from the water, storing them properly to get them to markets, and transporting them back to dry land. Many boats will be at sea for weeks or even months at a time, looking for the best locations and highest concentration of fish.

No formal education is necessary to become a fisherman; the skills needed to perform the job can be learned by doing the actual tasks. A fisherman may start out working with more experienced employees who will teach the processes properly, and the new employee will go on shorter fishing trips to get used to the lifestyle. Depending on the type of fishing being done, the new employee may be responsible for hauling nets or traps, sifting through recent catches and sorting out fish or other animals that need to be returned to the water, maintaining the boat, transporting cargo, and even cooking for himself and his shipmates.


It is likely that the fisherman will spend a significant amount of time away from home. This can be difficult both for the fisherman and his family, as many fishing expeditions can take several weeks or months. The weather conditions on the water can change rapidly and drastically, and it is likely that all employees on a boat will be exposed to extreme cold, heat, moisture, and rough seas. This means the job can be exceptionally hazardous, and the employee must understand that he can be injured or even killed while on the job. During colder months, it may be necessary for all employees to chip away ice from the ship's deck, do repairs to the boat, and otherwise maintain the equipment used on a daily basis.

Smaller business operations may require the fisherman to perform other duties while on land. He may need to transport the fish from the boat to storage units on land, and he may even be responsible for selling the fish to customers. This is usually done by staff specifically hired for these purposes, but independent fishermen may not be able to afford such staff.


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