Category:Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

About the job

Nature of work:

Fishermen/women operate fishing vessels less than 100 gross tonnes to pursue and land fish and other marine life. They are usually self-employed owner-operators of fishing vessels.

Job duties:
Fishermen/women perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Operate fishing vessel to pursue and catch fish and other marine life.
  • Select area for fishing, plot courses and compute navigational positions using compasses and charts or electronic fishing aids.
  • Steer vessel and operate navigational instruments.
  • Operate fishing gear, direct fishing operation and supervise fishing crew members.
  • Maintain engine, fishing gear and other on-board equipment.
  • Record fishing activities, weather and sea conditions.
  • Estimate costs of operations and plan budget for each fishing season.
  • Establish fish marketing plan and keep records of all financial transactions.
  • May transport fish to processing plants or fish buyers.
Sample job titles:
  • fisherman/woman
  • fishing vessel skipper
  • handliner fisherman/woman
  • lobster fisherman/woman
  • shellfish fisherman/woman
  • shellfish harvester operator

To work in these jobs, you need good eyesight and health. Physical strength may be necessary. You may be exposed to extreme weather conditions and varying climates. You must also be willing to travel for long periods at a time.

Job requirements:
  • A commercial fishing licence is required.
  • Licences are required for each species of fish pursued.
Other considerations:

Most workers in these jobs actively fish for only part of each year. As well, work in these jobs is seasonal with employment peaking in the summer months. When fishing, most work for more than 50 hours per week. An individual's earnings will depend upon a number of factors, such as the type of boat and equipment used, the species sought, the allotted quota, and the market price for the catch. Progression to master or mate on fishing vessels over 100 gross tonnes is possible with additional training, licensing and experience. Several years of experience as fishing vessel crew member or helper are usually required.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. However, jobseekers may face some competition for those positions. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow slightly over the next few years, which should provide some additional opportunities for employment. (yet overall job prospects are still considered limited). With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Fishermen/women most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions. With employment conditions being seasonal in nature, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year are fairly common.

The median employment income for 13% of Fishermen/women who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $58,652. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Fishermen/women4,865Weak growth565High
Minimum: $11.15
Median: $20.00
Maximum: $33.33
Minimum: $9,719
Median: $40,522
Maximum: $100,544
Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining14,665Decline slightly910High
Minimum: $10.85
Median: $16.00
Maximum: $31.88
Minimum: $4,009
Median: $23,520
Maximum: $87,170
Fishermen/womenCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
Percent employed full-time91%84%
Percent self-employed2%22%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentFishermen/womenCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton23%$20,28913%$32,974
Annapolis Valley3%$21,99613%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeFishermen/womenCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4845
GenderFishermen/womenCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
EducationFishermen/womenCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school42.3%$48,73234.0%$14,445
High school27.3%$59,71331.5%$14,229
Trades certificate13.9%$59,04714.0%$19,107
College certificate or diploma13.4%$53,83414.3%$21,289
University certificate or diploma0.5%x1.1%$17,641
Bachelor's degree2.1%x4.3%$15,980
University advanced certificate or diploma0.2%x0.3%$17,206
Master's degreeN/Ax0.4%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/AxN/AN/A
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Maritime Fishermen's Union
408 Main Street
Shediac, NB E4P 2G1
Tel: (506) 532-2485
Fax: (506) 532-2487
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nova Scotia Licensing Service Centre
P.O. Box 1035
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4T3
Tel: (902) 426-9966
Fax: (902) 426-5010 
Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council
38B John St, Suite 1
Yarmouth, NS B5A 3H2
Tel: (902) 742-6167
Fax: (902) 742-8391
Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
1800 Argyle Street, 6th floor (Suite 607)
Halifax, NS B3J 2R5
Tel: (902) 424-4560
Fax: (902) 424-4671

Training Paths & Education

There is no information to display in this section
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.