Fisheries deckhand

Fisheries deckhands


Fisheries deckhands work on fishing vessels where they carry out fishing related activities. They undertake a wide range of fishing and maritime work on land and at sea, such as handling of fishing gears and catches, communications, supply, seamanship, hospitality and stores.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to fisheries deckhand:

fishing vessel deckhand
fisheries sailor

Minimum qualifications

No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a fisheries deckhand.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Fisheries deckhand is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Fisheries deckhand career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to fisheries deckhand.

fishing net maker
deep-sea fishery worker
fisheries assistant engineer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of fisheries deckhand. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of fisheries deckhand with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

fisheries observer
fisheries refrigeration engineer
marine chief engineer
deck officer
ship captain

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of fisheries deckhand.

  • International regulations for preventing collisions at sea: Fundamental aspects of the international regulations to prevent collisions at sea, such as the conduct of vessels in sight of one another, navigation lights and markers, major light and acoustic signals, maritime signalling and buoys.
  • Fishing gear: Identification of the different gear used in capture fisheries and their functional capacity.
  • Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
  • Code of conduct for responsible fisheries: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the guidelines established for professional fishers.
  • International convention for the prevention of pollution from ships: The fundamental principals and requirements laid in the International Regulation for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL): Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil, Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk, prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form, Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships, Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships, Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships.
  • Deterioration of fish products: Process of decomposition and spoilage of fish products: physical, enzymatic, microbiological and chemical processes occurring after harvesting.
  • Fisheries legislation: The study and analysis of different fisheries management approaches taking into account international treaties and industry norms in order to analyze fisheries management regulations.
  • Quality assurance methodologies: Quality assurance principles, standard requirements, and the set of processes and activities used for measuring, controlling and ensuring the quality of products and processes.
  • Fire-fighting systems: The devices and systems used to extinguish fires; the classes and chemistry of fire.
  • Fishing vessels: Denomination of the different elements and equipment of fishing vessels.
  • Risks associated with undertaking fishing operations: General risks occurring when working on fishing boats and specific risks occurring only in some fishing modalities. Prevention of threats and accidents.
  • Quality of fish products: Factors affecting the quality of fish products. For instance, differences between species, impact of the fishing gears and parasite influence on the preservation of quality.
  • Health and safety regulations: Necessary health, safety, hygiene and environmental standards and legislation rules in the sector of particular activity.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of fisheries deckhand.

  • Follow hygienic practices in fishery operations: Comply with the right regulations and practices for hygienically handling fishery related tasks and responsibilities in fishery operations.
  • Work in outdoor conditions: Can cope with the different climate conditions such as heat, rain, cold or in strong wind.
  • Assist with emergencies: Take immediate action when an accident or medical emergency happens on-board. Identify the injuries and alert medical emergency staff. Seek to prevent further harm.
  • Preserve fish products: Place and classify fish products for proper conservation. Maintain suitable conditions for the conservation of fishery products.
  • Extinguish fires: Choose the adequate substances and methods to extinguish fires depending on their size, such as water and various chemical agents. Use a breathing apparatus.
  • Prepare lifeboats: Prepare lifeboats in ships before departure, ensure full functionality in case of emergency, follow regulatory instructions for lifesaving boats.
  • Moor vessels: Follow standard procedures to moor vessels. Manage communication between the ship and the shore.
  • Prepare deck equipment: Handle a wide assortment of deck equipment, including waterproof marine doors, hatches, winches, pumps, cleats, fairleads, portlights, shackles, swivels, tank top covers, anchors, and bollards. Prepare and organise equipment in the required locations and quantity on board a vessel.
  • Follow written instructions: Follow written directions in order to perform a task or carry out a step-by-step procedure.
  • Wash decks of ships: Clean the ship’s deck by sweeping and washing it thoroughly. Remove superfluous salt and water to avoid oxidation.
  • Use fishing vessel equipment: Dispose fishing gear and ship’s deck for successful extraction activities as directed by the superior. Run shooting and hauling gear operations for its optimal performance.
  • Assist anchoring operations: Assist during anchoring operations; operate equipment and assist in anchor manoeuvres.
  • Operate ship equipment: Operate ship equipment such as engines and generators, winches, and HVAC systems. Assume responsibility for all exterior equipment, as well as some interior. Ensure that deck equipment is operated safely.
  • Survive at sea in the event of ship abandonment: Identify muster signals and what emergencies they signal. Comply with established procedures. Don and use a lifejacket or an immersion suit. Safely jump into the water from a height. Swim and right an inverted liferaft while wearing a swim while wearing a lifejacket. Keep afloat without a lifejacket. Board a survival craft from the ship, or from the water while wearing a lifejacket. Take initial actions on boarding survival craft to enhance chance of survival. Stream a drogue or sea-anchor. Operate survival craft equipment. Operate location devices, including radio equipment.
  • Handle fish products: Handle fish with care and hygiene required to maintain quality. Adequately prepare fish products for storage.
  • Follow work procedures: Adhere to procedures at work in a structured and systematic manner.
  • Assist in ship maintenance: Contribute to shipboard maintenance and repair using painting, lubrication and cleaning materials and equipment. Execute routine maintenance and repair procedures. Dispose safely waste materials. Apply, maintain and use hand and power tools.
  • Operate echo sounding equipment: Operate technological equipment to measure the ocean’s depth. Calculate and interpret results, and communicate them to management.
  • Secure ships using rope: Use rope to secure and untie the ship before departure or upon arrival.
  • Handle cargo: Manage safely the mechanical elements in the loading and unloading of cargo and stores. Stowing and unstowing of products following instructions.
  • Unmoor vessels: Follow standard procedures to unmoor vessels. Manage communication between the ship and the shore.
  • Maintain safe navigation watches: Observe principles in keeping a navigation watch. Take over, accept and pass on a watch. Steer the vessel and perform routine duties undertaken during a watch. Observe safety and emergency procedures. Observe safety precautions during a watch and take immediate actions in the event of fire or accident.
  • Support vessel manoeuvres: Participate in manoeuvres at port: berthing, anchoring and other mooring operations. Contribute to a safe navigational watch.
  • Swim: Move through water by means of the limbs.
  • Follow verbal instructions: Have the ability to follow spoken instructions received from colleagues. Strive to understand and clarify what is being requested.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of fisheries deckhand. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Fisheries management: The principles, methods and equipment used in population management applied to fisheries: the concept of catch, by-catch, fishing effort, maximum sustainable yield, different sampling methods and how to use sampling material.
  • Types of maritime vessels: Know a large variety of maritime vessels and their characteristics and specifications. Use that knowledge to ensure that all security, technical, and maintenance measures are taken into account in their supply.
  • Assessment of risks and threats: The security documentation and any security-related communications and information.
  • Maritime meteorology: The scientific field of study that interprets meteorological information and applies it to ensure the safety of marine traffic.
  • Fish anatomy: The study of the form or morphology of fish species.
  • Global maritime distress and safety system: The internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of fisheries deckhand. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Use radar navigation: Operate modern radar navigation equipment to ensure safe vessel operations.
  • Work in a fishery team: Work as part of a crew or team, and meet team deadlines and responsibilities together.
  • Operate traditional water depth measurement equipment: Operate traditional water depth measuring equipment e.g. weights on a line, and traditional techniques for measuring the depth of water, particularly along coastlines and near harbours.
  • Manage engine-room resources: Allocate, assign, and prioritise engine-room resources. Communicate effectively, showing assertiveness and leadership. Obtain and maintain situational awareness, considering of team experience.
  • Adapt to changes on a boat: Acclimate to a constant change in work and living environments on boats by adapting one’s behaviour and perspective on various tasks and responsibilities.
  • Communicate using the global maritime distress and safety system: Send an alert in case of distress, using any of the various GMDSS radio systems such that the alert has a very high probability of being received by either shore rescue authorities and/or other vessels in the area.
  • Undertake continuous professional development in fishery operations: Initiate and progress in life long learning of the different challenging activities and operations which take place on board of a fishing vessel or in an aquaculture facility.
  • Work in shifts: Work in rotating shifts, where the goal is to keep a service or production line running around the clock and each day of the week.
  • Relay messages through radio and telephone systems: Possess the communication abilities to relay messages through a radio and telephone system.
  • Cope with challenging circumstances in the fishery sector: Adapt to changing circumstances in a positive way and stay calm under stressful situations while performing fishery operations.
  • Work in a multicultural environment in fishery: Interact and communicate with individuals and groups from different cultures and backgrounds in fishery operations.
  • Conduct on board safety inspections: Conduct on board safety inspections; identify and remove potential threats to the physical integrity of the ship crew.
  • Report to captain: Perform the full array of responsibilities and tasks for the deckhand, and report information regarding this orally to the master of the vessel and or the mate in the other person’s absence.
  • Use maritime English: Communicate in English employing language used in actual situations on board ships, in ports and elsewhere in the shipping chain.
  • Provide radio services in emergencies: Provide radio services in emergencies such as when the ship has to be abandoned, when fire breaks out on board the ship, or when radio installations break down partially or fully. Take preventive measures to protect the safety of the ship and personnel against hazards related to radio equipment, including electrical and non-ionising radiation hazards.
  • Support fishery training procedures: Support colleagues progress in their line of work by increasing their job specific know-how.
  • Assist in maritime rescue operations: Provide assistance during maritime rescue operations.
  • Maintain safe engineering watches: Observe principles in keeping an engineering watch. Take over, accept and hand over a watch. Perform routine duties undertaken during a watch. Maintain the machinery space logs and the significance of the readings taken. Observe safety and emergency procedures. Observe safety precautions during a watch and take immediate actions in the event of fire or accident, with particular reference to oil systems.
  • Perform lookout duties during maritime operations: Maintain a watch during maritime operations, in order to anticipate events and potential hazards.
  • Maintain vessel safety and emergency equipment: Maintain and inspect all safety and emergency equipment such as life jackets, inflatable life rafts, flares, EPIRB, first-aid kits, AED, skiff emergency packs, emergency flashlights, and hand-held radios. Ensure that safety equipment is organised, available for emergency use, and re-stocked as necessary. Record inspection of the equipment in appropriate logbooks.
  • Operate ship rescue machinery: Operate rescue boats and survival craft. Launch the boats as required and operate their equipment. Take care of survivors and survival craft after abandoning ship. Use electronic devices to track and communicate location, including communications and signalling apparatus and pyrotechnics.

ISCO group and title

8350 – Ships’ deck crews and related workers

  1. Fisheries deckhand – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by emel ceren
Last updated on August 21, 2022

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