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How to become a Fishing Vessel Skipper

fishing vessel skipper careers

What does a Fishing Vessel Skipper do?

Fishing vessel skippers are responsible for planning fishing voyages, the operation and maintenance of equipment, navigation, the success of the trip in terms of size and landing of the catch, and the safety and management of the vessel and crew.

Skippers need to keep up-to-date with current systems and equipment. Fishing is changing rapidly because of continuing advancement of modern technology. The crews of larger vessels use highly efficient systems and equipment for navigation and finding and keeping fish. On smaller vessels, more manual systems may still be in place.

Fishing vessel skippers must be familiar with mercantile law and international regulations affecting fishing vessels, as well as any conditions and regulations laid down by the vessel’s owners. Skippers ensure that a profit is made from each fishing trip and liaise with appointed onshore agents concerning the landing and selling of the catch.

What's the working environment like working as a Fishing Vessel Skipper?

Hours vary according to the size and purpose of the vessel. Small inshore vessels usually go to sea on a daily basis. Larger vessels may go to defined areas around the UK coast (limited area) or to more distant fishing grounds (unlimited area). These are likely to be away at sea for anything between several days to weeks or months at a time. Time is also spent ashore maintaining nets and repairing the vessel.

Skippers work long hours each day at sea and, although usually sharing daily and nightly watches with the mate, must always be available in any emergency.

Fishing vessel crews work in a challenging environment, mainly out in the open. Work is physically demanding and can be hazardous, especially in freezing weather, storms and gales. Conditions on board are often cramped, with basic facilities, although this depends on the type and age of vessel.

What does it take to become a Fishing Vessel Skipper?

To be a fishing vessel skipper you should:

  • enjoy being at sea in all weathers, sometimes for long periods
  • have knowledge of the sea, seamanship, meteorology, electronics and engineering
  • have a sound knowledge of British and international regulations for fishing vessels
  • be able to lead and manage a close-knit team working in often difficult and cramped conditions
  • be able to take responsibility for personal and crew safety
  • be able to cope with, and take instant decisions in emergency situations
  • have knowledge of first aid and be able to carry out emergency medical services
  • be physically fit with stamina, manual dexterity and a good sense of balance.

Fishing Vessel Skipper Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Fishing Vessel Skipper that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Seafish Training
Sea Fish Industry Authority
Seafish House
St Andrews Dock
Tel: 01482 327837

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
Seafarer Training and Certification Branch
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
S015 1EG
Tel: 023 8032 9231

Courses to help you become a Fishing Vessel Skipper