How can I Run my Own Commercial Fishing Boat?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

If you have determined that you want to run your own business, and that business happens to be operating a commercial fishing boat, there are some preparations you need to make before ever launching away from the pier. Here are some tips to help you with the details of running such a business, including outfitting the boat, managing the crew, and building a customer base for your catch.

Commercial fishing boats need to be properly outfitted.
Commercial fishing boats need to be properly outfitted.

One of the first things to do before you ever purchase your commercial fishing boat is to check in with local laws and regulations that will impact what you can actually do with the boat. Typically, there are restrictions on the type of fishing boats that can be launched from different outlets, as well as some guidelines you have to follow in order to engage in professional fishing endeavors.

Advice from other commercial fishermen can help when it comes to equipment likes cranes and hoists.
Advice from other commercial fishermen can help when it comes to equipment likes cranes and hoists.

You may also find some restrictions that relate to the boat itself, such as size, number of crew allowed, equipment that can be on board, and other matters. Remember that commercial fishing is a regulated business, not something you can just begin to do on a whim. By making sure you know the requirements for a licensed fishing boat before purchasing anything, a lot of time and effort will be saved.

Second, get some advice from commercial fishermen. Hiring someone for his or her professional expertise will allow you to quickly bypass any commercial fishing boat that is not up to code or specifications. You will find the advice invaluable when it comes to outfitting the boat with everything you need from hoists and cranes to netting. This process will allow you to have your business up and running without making some of the more common mistakes.

Along with the fish, you also need a good crew on your fishing boat. Choose a mix of seasoned pros and some newer people with a love for fishing and the outdoors. The combination of experience and enthusiasm will make for a dynamic bunch of people to work with. As other qualities, make sure everyone has a strong personal work ethic, physical endurance and strength, and the ability to work together as a team.

You can have a great crew and the best boat on the water, but without someone to purchase your product your efforts will go to waste. As a new commercial fishing boat owner, arrange some deals with local markets and restaurants for your catch. You will quickly find that, if you consistently bring in fresh product, word of mouth will help your business to grow. In time, you will be able to add some corporate clients as well, but in the beginning deal with local people who know you and want reliable deliveries.

Running your own commercial fishing boat, like running any business, takes leadership as well as making intelligent decisions about materials and personnel. Learn the local laws and regulations, choose the right equipment, and hire the right people. This will ensure that your business will be a joy to run.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


All fishers, whether they are commercial or not, need to make sure they know the local regulations about fishing before they go out. Generally the local coast guard won't take ignorance for an excuse and you could end up with a large fine or even jail time if you try to go home with fish that are too big or too small.

If you are fishing on a commercial vessel you are even more likely to be searched, so make sure you are complying with the law.


@KoiwiGal - Well, I agree to some extent, but I think the solution to declining fish stocks is to put more marine reserves into place, rather than limiting the number of boats in general. I think the methods of fishing should also be looked at, as bycatch is one of the big problems with the fishing industry and if that could be minimized there would be a smaller problem.

With that said, I would not start looking for commercial fishing boats for sale unless I already had experience, and in particular experience of fishing for the catch I was planning to get in the long run. I think people get a romantic view of fishing from the TV and maybe from their own experiences doing it as a hobby. It's definitely different when your livelihood depends on catching the fish and you can't go home without them.


Just make sure that there is going to be a product out there for you to catch before you invest a whole lot of money into buying a boat and finding a crew. It's a rare place that has a lot of fish to spare at the moment and there are already plenty of people who are trying to make a living out of a commercial fishing operation.

Not to mention the ethical ramifications of adding yet another boat to the already-crowded sea.

It might make financial sense, given that fish is expensive at the moment, but it's expensive because there isn't much left and the more we take the less there will be for future generations.

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