Fishing and Harvesting

Wondering if a job on the water is for you? If the majority of these statements apply, you could enjoy harvesting your Nation’s seafood.

  • I like to spend time outdoors doing things like camping and fishing.
  • I enjoy stories told by my Elders about when seafood was plentiful.
  • I like to work in and around the water, and I don’t mind being on boats for long periods of time.
  • I like the freedom of working for myself and working very hard for part of the year.
  • I am willing to learn the skills I need to drive and maintain a boat, navigate on the ocean, run a business, and take care of fishing gear.
People who work harvesting seafood usually travel in boats, set nets or hook and line gear, haul in catches, clean their fish, and bring their catch to buyers. They may work as part of a team for long hours away from home and may work only part of the year. For those who own their own boats, gear maintenance, marine navigation, and business skills like marketing your catch are a must.

Other jobs in fishing and harvesting include diving for species like tut?up (sea urchins), geoducks and sea cucumbers or gathering species like gooseneck barnacles or clams.

Clam diggers need to be in good physical shape and have some experience digging clams.

Divers need to have a Commercial Dive Certi?cate and may apprentice for two years before starting their own business.

Deck hands need to have safety awareness and boat training and may learn technical skills on the job.

Fishermen/women run their own boats and need to have a commercial ?ishing licence, technical skills to navigate safely on the ocean, and business skills to successfully harvest and sell their fish. Transport Canada now requires all boat operators to have Marine Emergency Duties training and a Small Vessel Operators Proficiency Certificate. Some may also require Fishing Master Class IV.

Clam diggers’ earnings depend on how many clams they dig and where they dig them. One example is between $0.80 and $0.90 per pound for wild clams or $0.60 per pound for seeded clams, which might work out to $400 in one night! They work seasonally.

Divers earn between $200 and$600/day and may work 6 months of the year in harvesting jobs.

Deck hands earn a percentage of the catch (between $10,000 and $40,000 per year) and work seasonally. Earnings depend on the type of the boat, the size of the catch, and the number of months worked

Experienced fishermen and women earn between $20,000 and $90,000 over a season depending on their catch and the size of their boat. A gillnetter may earn between $20,000 and $40,000 with a single area licence, while someone who catches more than one species (like dogfish, tuna, and lingcod) may earn up to $90,000 in one season.

Sample Employers

  • Self Employed
  • Commercial fishing boats
  • First Nations

Sample Jobs

  • Clam diggers
  • SCUBA Divers
  • Deck Hands
  • Skippers
  • Fishermen/women

Did You Know

The Nuu-chah-nulth word for a fisheries boat is c?ac?aa?uk. The word for fisherman is ?iic?aq?.