Wages & Outlook
Nationally, most commercial fishers earn between $300 and $700 per week.
Pay varies with the worker's duties and experience as well as the type of operation. Pay also varies with the size of the boat and the amount and value of the catch. Wages also vary by season. In general, wages are lowest in the winter, when the weather is bad and fishers go out less often. Some fishers have other jobs during the winter.
The cost of operating the ship, repairing and maintaining the equipment, and feeding the crew is subtracted from the sale of the catch. The remaining money is divided as shares among the crew members. Generally, the ship's owner (usually its captain) receives half of the net proceeds. This amount covers any profit, as well as ship maintenance and repair. Crew shares are generally between five and 12 percent.
Commercial fishers who are self-employed must provide their own health insurance and retirement plan.
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Information on number of commercial fishers working in Minnesota is not available.
About 58 percent of all commercial fishers are self-employed. Most of the rest work for commercial fishing companies.
Some commercial fishers are involved in sport fishing activities. Jobs for commercial fishers are found in all coastal states as well as those that border the Great Lakes.
The fishing industry depends on the ability of fish stock to replenish itself through growth and reproduction. Many types of fish are below the level at which they can replenish themselves easily. Thus, fishing for these types of fish has been reduced or prohibited. Because fishers are limited in the type of fish they can catch, fewer commercial fishers will be needed.
Employment growth for commercial fishers will continue to be limited by three factors. First, the number of large fishing vessels is growing. Second, the use of electronic equipment for navigation, communication, and location of fish is increasing. Third, fishing gear is improving. All of these factors have increased the efficiency of fishing operations. As a result, boats can have fewer crew members. Similarly, the use of boats on which the catch is processed aboard the vessel may limit employment opportunities.
Despite the predicted decline in jobs, openings will occur. Some fishers will leave the occupation because of the strenuous, hazardous nature of the job. Others will leave because of the lack of steady, year-round income. Most job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation. Sport fishing boats will continue to provide some job opportunities.