Alaska Fishing Industry Overview
The fishing industry in Alaska is a diverse business
encompassing everything from giant factory trawlers with crews
of over 100 workers, to small two-man gillnetting boats, to over
70 onshore processing plants in five
different regions of the state. Overall these employers employee
over 65,000 people.
in the offshore fishing industry include giant floating processors
(which process but don't catch fish) and tenders (which deliver
fish to land and offshore processors). There are also a number
of "factory" or catcher/processor vessels which both
catch and process the fish at sea. Additionally, there are three
main types of salmon harvesting boats (purse seiners, gillnetters
and trollers), pot boats (which catch crab and bottomfish) and
longliners (which catch halibut, blackcod and other groundfish).
waters also harbor a thriving fleet of smaller trawler boats
catch groundfish but do not process them. These fishing boats
from one to twenty crew members (plus processors if they process
their own fish) depending on the fishery, the
fishing method and sometimes the region. Each of these are explained
in full detail in the Member Services area.
Alaska Harvesting Jobs vs Processing Jobs
Alaska fishing industry jobs can be divided into
harvesting and processing. Anyone seeking work in the industry
must decide which of these to pursue. Processing occurs both
onshore plants and on boats, while harvesting is the actual process
of catching fish.
The easiest way for a newcomer to break into the industry is
on the processing end of things. Either at onshore plants or on
floating vessels, processing companies hire countless entry-level
workers to deal directly with the fish that have been caught.
These positions include slimers, packers, cleanup crew members,
machine operators, and office staff. Processing worker are usually
paid an hourly wage with overtime and bonuses can make $800 to
$1,000+ per week during peak season. Room and board and transportation
(from the point of hire) is often provided for free or is greatly
subsidized as long as you fulfill your contract term.
Harvesting or deckhand positions potentially can be even much
more lucrative. Deckhands are usually paid a percentage of the
boat's catch, called a crew share. When a boat does well, the
deckhands also do well and vise versa. Most of you have probably
heard stories about the deckhands making $20,000 in less than
a month. Although, many of these stories are true, they are not
by any means typical. There are a lot of variable that affect
how much you make. Another great thing about deckhand jobs is
that you usually live and eat onboard the boat, which substantially
reduces your living expenses. In the Members
Section, we show you strategies to help you land a good
position on a boat as well as ways to help you maximize your
earnings. Net repair, wheel watching, net hauling, and rigging
are just some of the responsibilities of harvest workers.
Alaska Fishing Jobs - The Fishing Seasons
SUMMER JOBS- Most people who come up to Alaska
to work in the summer will be working in the commercial or sport salmon fishing industries.
Alaska's summer salmon harvests are immense. Each summer, commercial
fishermen catch between 150 and 200 million fish in a few months
period. The first salmon runs start in mid-May (the prized Copper
River salmon) and the last major runs end in early October. Peak
seasons varies by region and usually ranges from mid-June to
August making it ideal work for college students.
FALL, WINTER, & SPRING JOBS - Autumn in
Alaska means the end of
the bustling salmon season and a shift to a variety of other
throughout the state. In October, the largest king krab fishery opens. Working a Alaska king crab fishing job can be very lucrative, but it is also difficult to get these jobs without previous fishing experience. Numerous employment opportunities exist
during this period in all three major sectors of the industry - onshore
processing plants, offshore processing vessels, and harvesting
Factory trawlers harvest during most of the fall, winter, and
spring months. In fact, the most lucrative time to work on a
trawler is during the Pollock A season, which extends from late
January often into April. Factory longliners also harvest halibut,
blackcod and other groundfish between March 1 and November 1.
of crab are caught during the late fall and early winter months
by both individual crabbing boats and the larger crab catcher/processors.
During the fall and spring months hundreds of boats also fish
for halibut, sablefish, and a variety of species of groundfish.
In addition, the sac roe herring fishery also takes place during
See our Alaska
for approximate start and stop dates of all the major fisheries.
Check out our Alaska Job FAQ area to
about the answers to a number of typical questions regarding
in the fishing industry.
Get started on your Alaska job search now!
Video Tour: Member's Section Overview Video
- View the video for a quick tour of what is included in the AlaskaJobFinder Member's Section