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Fishers and Related Fishing Workers Job Outlook

Employment of fishers and related fishing workers is expected to decline moderately (by 6 percent) from 2010 to 2020.

Fishers and related fishing workers depend on the natural ability of fish stocks to replenish themselves through growth and reproduction. They also depend on governmental regulation to promote replenishment of fisheries. Because the use of sophisticated equipment has raised the efficiency of finding fish stocks, the need for setting limits to catches also has risen. Additionally, improvements in fishing gear and highly automated floating processors have increased fish hauls.

Fisheries councils issue various restrictions to prevent overharvesting and to allow stocks of fish and shellfish to replenish naturally. Fishing councils are shifting to an individual quota system that tends to reduce employment. Nonetheless, such a system benefits workers who remain in the industry because it lengthens the fishing seasons and steadies employment.

Rising seafood imports and increasing competition from farm-raised fish are adversely affecting fishing income and also are causing some fishers to leave the industry. However, because competition from farm-raised and imported seafood tends to be concentrated in specific species, some regions are more affected than others.

Governmental efforts to replenish stocks are having some positive results, which should increase fish stocks in the future. Efforts by private fishers’ associations on the West Coast to increase government monitoring of fisheries may help prevent the type of decline in fish stocks found in waters off the East Coast. Nevertheless, pollution is now recognized as a new factor affecting the reproduction of fish, and it may take many years to improve that situation.

Job Prospects

Most job openings will result from the need to replace fishers and related fishing workers who leave the occupation because of the strenuous and hazardous nature of the job and the lack of a steady year-round income. The best prospects should be with large fishing operations; opportunities with small independent fishers are expected to be limited.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition