Life on a Fishing Vessel

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Life on a Fishing Vessel

Category : News

In recent years the concept of deep-sea fishing and large scale fishery has been popularized by shows like “Deadliest Catch”, a reality television show that documents the lives of Alaskan crab fisherman.  With this has come some recent rise in the number of people that have tried to join these ventures, leading to many “greenhorns” arriving at shore hoping to become part of an adventure.  They show up, relatively unprepared, and waiting to cast off into the blue yonder.

Rarely do these greenhorns make it past one season.  This is because the life of a fisherman is a hard one, and not everyone is cut out for the labor and living conditions that are required to last months on the open sea.  In this article we will talk about some of less romanticized and adventurous aspects of industrial scale fishing vessels.

Let’s frame this article with a few simple questions about daily life on a fishing vessel.  Many people will take these simple things for granted, but we have to remember that we are essentially living on a boat (and this isn’t a luxury ocean liner that you take for a week into the Mediterranean resorts either).


How do they eat on a fishing vessel? Well this one is as bad as it could be, I suppose.  Anyone who is a regular viewer of the fishing reality shows will know that they do eat well.  They have to, considering the strenuous manual labor that they are performing day in, day out.  Given the possibility of spoilage, however, special precautions need to be taken.  For example:

Any perishable foods are kept frozen.  Any vessel that is meant to house staff for more than a few days has to have an industrial strength freezer on board to keep food at a sub-freezing temperature.  This is usually not a problem for industrial fishing vessels, since the fish caught needs to be instantly frozen in order to maintain it until they are back on land.

Living quarters will also be equipped with standard refrigerators, microwaves and ovens.  While the space is cramped, it does come with some unlikely amenities that make these quarters feel comfortable for the fisherman.  When they are not hard at work pulling it the days catch, they can relax and enjoy some coffee.


Laundry on a fishing boat? Not quite like this...

Laundry on a fishing boat? Not quite like this…

Now how on earth do they take care of cleaning clothes on the long trips to sea?  With all the hard labor fisherman perform, they run through changes of clothes at a rapid pace.  Without proper laundry and cleaning care, it could become a big health and sanitary problem that could endanger the mission of the crew.  Well, they have this covered, as they must.  Most fishing vessels are equipped with large scaled stacked washer dryers that can handle large loads of laundry.  They are usually built into walls of the interior of the boat so as to account for the wild shifting when the boat is at sea.

The same principles cover the fisherman living quarters.  Each is given a section (sometimes even just a bunk bed) that they are responsible for.  There are no cleaning services that come by to fix up the place, so each fisherman must take care of their own area.  Failure to do so not only reflects poorly on the fisherman but can also strain relationship with his/her shipmates.

Communication with the Outside World

How do these fisherman, who are out on the ocean for months at a time, communicate with anyone back on dry land?  In decades prior, this has been largely impossible except for the standard radio communication.  However in recent years this has expanded a bit to include some access to cellular phone signals and satellite communications.  For the most part this is an expensive process and is kept for use only in emergencies for for necessary data (like weather outlooks, notifications from authorities, communication with headquarters, etc).

So for the most part sailors and fishermen are cut off from the rest of the world.  This is one of the hard facts that newcomers have to face, and often times they are no prepared from what it feels like.  Isolation from friends and family, combined with lots of intense hard labor and potential dangers, tends to leave most greenhorns packing their bags at the end of the season.

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