If you are interested in working on an at-sea processing vessel, please contact the individual companies listed on the APA Directory page or use the List of Fisheries that Hire Seasonally on the sidebar. The following provides a brief glimpse into employment in this industry sector.
The vessels: At-sea processing vessels (or catcher-processors) catch, process, freeze and store aboard groundfish (primarily pollock, Pacific whiting, and cod). The vessels represented by the At-sea Processors Association (APA) range in size from 220 - 376 feet. These vessels produce surimi (minced fish used to make products such as imitation crab meat) or fillet products. The vessels employ an average of 137 persons each fishing season.
The work: The majority of positions on a catcher-processor are for processors, an entry level position. Processing work can be physically demanding. Processors work 12 to 16 hours per day, often in split shifts.
Living conditions: While at-sea, crew members have little time for anything other than working, eating, and sleeping. However, vessels do have lounges where crew members can read, relax, or watch a movie on DVD. Vessel operators do ensure that crew members are provided with good food and plenty of it. Sleeping quarters differ from vessel to vessel, some will sleep two crew members per room and some four. Work shifts are often arranged so that half of the bunkmates are on duty when the others are off duty. Crew members must have clothing and boots suitable for factory work and weather conditions. Ship stores stock clothing and raingear, toiletries and other supplies. Laundry service is provided.
The pay: Companies vary in the way pay scales are determined. Some companies pay by the hour, for others pay is based on the amount of product produced. For the majority of companies pay is based on the market value of the product being produced. Because products processed at-sea are of the highest quality, and can be produced with the utmost efficiency, at-sea processing employees are among the best paid workers in the seafood industry.
Contracts: Employees are asked to sign a contract, the terms of which will differ from company to company. For employees who meet the terms of their contracts, room and board are provided at no charge, as well as transportation to and from the fishing grounds.
Safety: Vessel and crew member safety are of utmost concern to vessel operators. All vessels meet the highest Coast Guard safety standards and all crew members are provided survival suits and given extensive safety training. Catcher-processors are considered safer than smaller fishing vessels but applicants should be aware that working at sea, especially in the stormy waters of the Bering Sea, can be hazardous. All employees are insured under the companies' maritime insurance policies for on-the-job accidents.
Zero tolerance: Drugs and alcohol are strictly forbidden aboard catcher-processors. All applicants are required to pass a drug test that screens for marijuana, alcohol, amphetamines (speed) and other substances. Anyone caught onboard with drugs or alcohol is sent home at their own expense.
Team environment: At-sea processing vessels are floating communities. Men and women from a variety of cultures and countries, all work closely together. Getting along with others is an important characteristic for workers onboard at-sea processors.
Advancement opportunities: At-sea processing companies value crew members who work hard, are excellent team players, and are interested in a career in the seafood processing industry. Companies promote from within whenever possible, and frequently pay for training programs.