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Fishers and Related Fishing Workers

Fishers and related fishing workers catch and trap various types of marine life. The fish they catch are for human food, animal feed, bait, and other uses. Show Details


Fishers and related fishing workers typically do the following:

  • Locate fish using fish-finding equipment
  • Direct fishing operations and supervise crew
  • Steer vessels and operate navigational instruments
  • Maintain engines, fishing gear, and other onboard equipment by doing minor repairs
  • Sort, pack, and store catch in holds with salt and ice
  • Measure fish to ensure they comply with legal size
  • Return undesirable or illegal catches to the water
  • Guide nets, traps, and lines onto vessels by hand or using hoisting equipment
  • Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads

To plot the ship's course, fishing boat captains use compasses, charts, and electronic navigational equipment, including global positioning systems (GPS). They also use radar and sonar to avoid obstacles above and below the water and to find fish.

Some fishers work in deep water on large fishing boats that are equipped for long stays at sea. Some process the fish they catch on board and prepare them for sale.

Other fishers work in shallow water on small boats that often have a crew of only one or two members. They might put nets across the mouths of rivers or inlets or pots and traps for fish or shellfish, such as lobsters and crabs, or use dredges to gather other shellfish, such as oysters and scallops.

A small portion of commercial fishing requires diving with diving suits or scuba gear. These divers use spears to catch fish and nets to gather shellfish, sea urchins, abalone, and sponges.

Some fishers harvest marine vegetation rather than fish. They use rakes and hoes to gather Irish moss and kelp.

Although most fishers work in commercial fishing, some in this occupation use their expertise in sport or recreational fishing.

Aquaculture—raising and harvesting fish and other aquatic life under controlled conditions in ponds or confined bodies of water—is a different occupation. For more information, see the profile for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers.

The following are examples of types of fishers and related fishing workers:

The fishing boat captain plans and oversees the fishing operation, fish to be sought, location of the best fishing grounds, method of capture, duration of the trip, and sale of the catch. Captains direct the fishing operation and record daily activities in the ship’s log. Increasingly, they use the Internet to bypass processors and sell fish directly to consumers, grocery stores, and restaurants.

Fishers that specialize in catching certain species include crabbers and lobster catchers.

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Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships from aircraft carriers to submarines, from sailboats to tankers. Marine engineers work on the mechanical systems, such as propulsion and steering. Naval architects work on the basic design, including the form and stability of hulls. Show Details


Marine engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery to draw up work requests and job specifications
  • Conduct environmental, operational, or performance tests on marine machinery and equipment
  • Design and oversee testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment
  • Investigate and observe tests on machinery and equipment for compliance with standards
  • Coordinate activities with regulatory bodies to ensure that repairs and alterations are done safely and at minimal cost
  • Prepare technical reports for use by engineers, managers, or sales personnel
  • Prepare cost estimates, schedules for design and construction, and contract specifications
  • Maintain contact with contractors to be sure the work is being done correctly, on schedule, and within budget

The people who operate or supervise the operation of the machinery on a ship are sometimes called marine engineers, or, more frequently, ship engineers. Their work differs from that of the marine engineers in this profile. For more information on ship engineers, see the profile on water transportation occupations.

Marine engineers are increasingly putting their knowledge to work in power generation. Companies that formerly concentrated on other activities, such as papermaking, are now increasing their efforts to produce and sell electricity back to the power grid. These engineers’ skills are also useful in the oil and gas industry, including offshore drilling operations.

Naval architects typically do the following:

  • Study design proposals and specifications to establish basic characteristics of a ship, such as size, weight, and speed
  • Develop sectional and waterline curves of the hull to establish the center of gravity, ideal hull form, and data on buoyancy and stability
  • Design entire ship hulls and superstructures, following safety standards
  • Design the layout of ships’ interiors, including passenger compartments, cargo space, ladder wells, and elevators
  • Confer with marine engineers to set up the layout of boiler room equipment, heating and ventilation systems, refrigeration equipment, and propulsion machinery
  • Lead teams from a variety of specialties to oversee building and testing prototypes
  • Evaluate how the ship does during trials both at the dock and at sea and change the design as needed to make sure the ship meets national and international standards.
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