Commercial Fishing

A career in commercial fishing

Commercial fishing in the UK is the most familiar way of harvesting seafood.  The traditional images of fishers facing the perils of the high seas have changed as modern fishing boats are more sophisticated, more comfortable and safer. 

But sea fishing is still a uniquely challenging and often very satisfying career.  Frequently described as the “last of the hunters”, the men and women who crew and operate the fishing boats that harvest the rich ocean resources in our waters are dedicated, highly skilled and well rewarded.

Commercial fishing is no longer a male only career as more and more women enter the industry and progress to the ultimate goal of being skipper of their own fishing vessel.

Whether it’s operating a small day boat or a multi-million pound deep sea trawler there’s always a new challenge every trip.  There are opportunities not just for work but for adventure in every part of the industry.

So, it’s no surprise then that so many fishers have spent their entire working lives in commercial fishing harvesting fish and shellfish.

Most new entrants start as a trainee deckhand after completing essential safety training, but progression to a full share as a deckhand can be swift and the limits of mate or skipper are in reach of anyone with drive and determination.

To be a commercial fisher in the UK there are certain training courses and qualifications that you must complete and there are other training opportunities that will help you progress.  An apprenticeship programme is available and there are many fishing vessels interested in taking on a trainee.

Are you ready to test the waters?

To start work on a commercial fishing vessel, individuals must undergo statutory safety training in basic sea survival, fire fighting, health and safety, first aid and safety awareness. There is a good career progression in the industry, starting as a deck hand you can then progress to Skipper, Engineer and even one day own your own fishing vessel. Further qualifications can be gained to enable you to become an Engineer or Skipper.

More information

Seafish is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) giving the seafood sector in the UK the support it needs to thrive. For more information on how you can start your next adventure as a commercial fishers visit the Seafish website here.


Reviewed June 2023