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Fishing hand

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Summary of occupation

Fishing hands are responsible for working and maintaining nets, lines, pots and other fishing equipment on deep sea and inshore fishing vessels. When nets and lines are hauled back on board, fishing hands sort and clean the catch and may also assist in processing and preserving operations. On most vessels all crew members will have to help with general cleaning and vessel maintenance duties. Fishing hands may also operate machinery, such as winches to haul in nets, and electronic equipment, including radio transmitters and fish finding equipment.

ANZSCO description: Catches fish, crustacea and molluscs using nets, pots, lines and traps in ocean and inland waters.
Alternative names: Fisher, Fisher Person, Fisherman, Fishing Boat Mate, Fishing Deckhand
Specialisations: Cray Fishing Hand, Master Fisher, Prawn Trawler Hand, Purse Seining Hand
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A fishing hand needs:

  • to be able to work as part of a team
  • a high level of physical fitness
  • manual and practical skills
  • to be prepared to spend long periods at sea
  • an awareness of safety principles and procedures
  • to enjoy working outdoors.
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Working conditions

Fishing hands working on deep sea vessels can spend weeks or months at sea, while those working inshore generally work for shorter periods. They work in a range of weather conditions, which can include rough seas and stormy weather. The work can be dangerous, and fishing hands must follow strict safety guidelines to protect both themselves and their crewmates. While at sea they work shifts, which can be long and include nights and weekends. They generally work everyday while at sea and have long breaks when they return to shore, which can last weeks or occasionally months. Fishing hands may work in coastal locations throughout Western Australia, particularly in the Mid West and Gascoyne regions, spreading from Geraldton to Exmouth.

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Salary details

On average, deck and fishing hands can expect to earn at least $801 per week ($41 647 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

Fishing hands use a range of fishing equipment, depending on what they are trying to catch. This includes nets, long lines (with up to 10,000 hooks each), pots and dredges. They also use winches to cast (or shoot) and haul in nets. On some vessels they will also use knives to clean and gut a catch. They use large freezers to store their catch. Safety gear such as life jackets, harnesses and hardhats are also important. Ropes, spikes, hammer and needles are also used to mend nets and carry out other maintenance duties.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a fishing hand without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in fishing operations.

The Certificate II in Fishing Operations is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can complete a traineeship. The deckhand (fishing operations), fisher hand, and senior deckhand – fishing operations traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete. The deckhand (fishing operations) and fisher hand traineeships are available as a school-based traineeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Fishing Hand  Video Fishing Hand Occupation

Fishing Hands maintain ships' equipment and structures, and catch fish, crustacea and molluscs.

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