Fishing Hand

The South African fishing industry contributes 3.2% to the national economy and relies on a flourishing and sustainable marine environment. Fishing hands play a key role in fishing operations of commercial concerns and could make a key contribution to ensuring sustainable fishing practices.

Fishing hands catch fish and shellfish using nets, pots, lines and traps. They perform everyday tasks of baiting, setting lines or traps, hauling and sorting catch. They also maintain fishing vessels and gear and are responsible for securing and removing mooring lines when vessels dock or leave harbours.

Fishing hands work in deep waters on commercial ships or trawlers, often for weeks at a time with large crews. They could also work in shallow waters on smaller fishing boats making short day runs with only a few crew members. Regularity of work and income is highly dependent on weather conditions and the ability of vessels to go out to sea.


Fishing hands must have physical strength and stamina, given the nature of the job and will additionally benefit from: 

  • Machine and mechanical operating capability
  • Endurance to withstand difficult work conditions
  • Foundational measuring and mathematical ability
  • Strong team player


Operate fishing gear to catch fish and shellfish

Prepare and maintain nets, lines and fishing tackle and other deck equipment, surfaces and the fish hold

Clean, sort and pack seafood in ice and salt and stow catch in the hold

Handle the mooring lines of the fishing vessel when entering and exiting the harbour


Fishing hands can benefit from a General Education and Training or Further Education and Training Certificate or a General Certificate in Transport (Fishing) at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 offered at the National Occupation Safety Association, SA Maritime School and Training Force. Training could also take place on the job with mentoring by experienced crew.


Commercial and small-scale fishing companies.

Private charter fishing companies.

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