Alaska crab fishing jobs are not for the chronic complainer's nor for the faint in heart. Only those who are physically able to stand for long periods of time and work long hours and move heavy objects, as well as, get along well with other people in remote and often wet and extremely cold conditions need apply.
There have been many "fish stories" told about guys who, with absolutely no trouble whatsoever, have landed a job as a crew member in Alaska's fishing industry on a highliner fishing boat and made tons and tons of money. Others have boasted of lucrative jobs in canneries and on the crab fishing boats. Yet, in reality, for every success, there are many failures. A prospective crew member's chance for landing one of many Alaska crab fishing jobs can onlybe realized by an honest and careful assessment of job the openings, the requirements, and paying close attention to the details regarding any job offer in the crab fishing industry.
Close to the crab fishing seasons, prospective crew members head to Alaska to walk up and down the fishing docks hoping to catch leads to follow up on a rare opening. Then, they must follow up on each word of mouth lead and go speak with the skipper personally. The travel, the time, and waiting for such an opportunity can be costly, both physically and monetarily. Crew members rarely leave these good jobs, so only a small handful of hopefuls will find their crab fishing job in this manner.
Keep in mind that Alaska crab fishing jobs are rated as one of the most hazardous and lucrative occupations in America. Seasoned captains will rarely lose a good crew member through a mere misunderstanding and they will rarely have serious mishaps. With this said, it may be a good idea to find out why a previous crew member has left, and, especially, if there are numerous crew vacancies on one particular vessel.
When applying for a crew member position, it's also very important to keep in mind all the pro's and con's, that not all vessels pay the same wages, especially for the new deckhands.
Some deck hands may be offered a percentage of the crab harvest earnings. Some vessels may only offer newcomer's as low as, $50 a day to as much as $100 a day wage, instead of a percentage of the catch. Some vessels may offer a wage from anywhere from 1.5% to 10% of the adjusted gross catch. A lot of this depends upon the location, the skills of the worker, (a seasoned or new deckhand), and the current conditions of the crabbing market. The daily rate or a share or percentage of the catch is considered pay for all work performed. And then there's costs that need to be taken into consideration...
Just like any other profession, Alaska crab fishing deckhands need to supply their own commercial crab fishing licenses. In 2000, commercial fishing license fees are $60 for a resident and $125 for a non-resident. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a web site that offer's crew license's information and where you can purchase a license at Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Many Alaskan crabbing vessels will pass down the charge of the share of the operating expenses to their crew members, too. So, with this in mind it is something you should ask about if being offered a crew member job on a crab fishing vessel. Some things you may have to help pay for are food, fuel, ice, toiletries, and bait. This, again, will depend upon the vessel, but also note that crew member's can be expected to purchase specialized apparel such as:
And that's just a start. However, we have some pretty good prices in our store! We'll show you below...
The crab fishing vessel owner/operator/captain should provide other specialized gear required by the Coast Guard, such as a survival suit.
Always....Make sure the vessel has a good safety reputation before accepting an offer for any Alaska crab fishing job. Also, make sure you have a signed work agreement or contract that clearly explains the pay and other job benefits before going to work!
Don't forget to ask about the safety equipment you'll need to use and the safety procedures aboard your intended vessel. Once you are hired, crew members must obey all safety rules or risk even the hope of getting on another vessel in the future. The Alaska Crab Fishing family are pretty close knit!
Also, take note that even though you are applying for a crab fishing job in Alaska. That means you'll be entering the Bering Sea! You may want to check out this article from the Discovery Channel (where we referenced this article) as well..."How to become a Bering Sea Crab Fisherman". (It will open into a new window.) It has tons of more information to help you decide if this kind of crab fishing job is for you.
So, with all this said, how do you feel about crabbing in the Bering Sea? Yea or Nay? Give us your thoughts....
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