Is Tuna Fishing A Good Career?


Tuna fishing usually involves catching tuna in a variety of methods, some of which includes pole and line, purse seining and use of long lines.The species of tuna you can sell commercially are yellowfin, albacore, bigeye, skipjack and bluefin.

A bluefin tuna usually is the largest amongst the group that can reach a staggering 1,000 pounds and 6.5 feet in length. The nature of tuna fishing is unpredictable, so compensation from this job is highly variable.Typically, a tuna fisherman earns a percentage of the profits from each catch they make in addition to their base salary earnings.

A professional tuna fisherman normally makes a living out of catching tuna in the ocean, usually in the Pacific.Their catch is sold either locally or in the global market. A tuna fisherman owns a percentage of the fishes sold that determines his income and is added to his basic salary if any. The percentage you receive will depend on your rank in the vessel. The captain usually receives half the net proceeds from the catch while lower ranking crew members receive a smaller percentage.

What Are The Different Methods Used In Tuna Fishing?

The vessel used in tuna fishing will take a hundred of miles out to sea to find the tuna they intend to catch. A professional fisherman may stay out to sea for several days or even weeks looking for an abundant catch. Some stay out at sea as long as it takes to completely fill their vessels capacity while others work on a trip-by-trip basis.

Fishing boats contain refrigerators to keep their catch fresh until they return to shore. There are three usual methods in tuna fishing which professional tuna fishermen employ, pole and line, purse seining and the use of long lines.

Pole and line vessels are medium in size. The fisherman mainly fish from the rear part of the vessel, either from deck or steel racks mounted on the vessel. Since tuna fishes mostly inhabit the upper water layer or deeper water species when they appear close to it, skipjack and other small juveniles of tuna species are being caught. Pole and line fishing carry live bait including Sardines or Anchovies, to entice the fish to aggregate around the boat.

Purse seining is the most effective way of catching tuna. A purse seine is a long wall of netting framed with leadline. There are also purse rings that hang from the lower edge. The use of long lines, however, can be set to hang near the surface or along the sea floor to catch tuna. It is considered ecologically sustainable although prone to incidental catching and killing sea turtles and sharks.

Does Tuna Fishing Pay Well?

Tuna fishermen typically earn an average annual salary of $28,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10 percent earn $17,000 per year while the annual average salary of the upper 10 percent was $40,000. Your salary also varies according to your location, with Washington, Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts being the highest-paying states for tuna fishermen.

When employed by the federal government, a tuna fisherman can earn the highest annual salary approximately reaching up to $42,000. Depending on what industry you sell your catch, earnings are averaged from $22,000 to$31,000 whether from sightseeing and seafood preparation and packaging industry, respectively.

Since the nature of tuna fishing is unpredictable, it may not be a good career for you especially if a family is dependent upon your earnings. Nevertheless, if you own the vessel used in catching the fish or if you are the captain of the vessel, your career certainly is in good hands and providing for your family shouldn’t prove that difficult.


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