As a third generation commercial fisherman, it was clear what industry Adam was likely going to work in, although after finishing secondary school he gained a building certificate – just in case.

Based on Hot Water Beach, Adam spends most of his time at sea off the coast of Whitianga in the Coromandel. He is the in-shore skipper for a 48-foot boat and works for Ocean Products New Zealand.

Adam and his crew do long line fishing for exporting, and mostly catch snapper. Their week-long fishing expeditions can see them go as far north as Whangarei, and across to Tauranga, depending on where the fish are.

To work in a role like this, Adam said you must be passionate about the ocean, and keen to lend your hand to a range of tasks.

“Apart from just running the fishing boat, you’ve got to handle crew and be a bit of a mechanic.”

He is also responsible for choosing where to hunt the fish, where to set their gear, and ensuring his crew of two deckhands is safe while they’re fishing.

What Adam loves about his work is that no day is the same, and he is constantly aware of what Mother Nature throws at his crew while out in the boat.

During down-time while out at sea, Adam said he and his crew get out their surf boards or go diving.

A lot of the work is learned on the job, but some ITPs (polytechnics) around the country run general fishing courses.

Once someone has completed that, Adam suggested they can try and get work experience on a boat, so they can experience the job first-hand.

For those keen to get into the industry, there is a deckhand certificate available, which includes clocking up 18 months on the sea.

“It’s worth it, because everything is learned over time,” said Adam. If they’ve made a good impression with their work, Adam said their boss can recommend them to study towards a skipper certificate, so they can run a boat themselves.

Average pay

  • Pay for fishing skippers varies depending on the size and type of the boat they operate and whether they own it, the fish species being targeted, and the size of their catch.
  • Inshore fishing skippers usually earn $40k–$80k per year.
  • Deep-sea fishing skippers usually earn $150k–$280k per year.

(Source: Careers New Zealand)

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