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The species of tuna with commercial value include yellowfin, bigeye, bluefin, albacore and skipjack. Fishermen catch tuna with several methods including purse seining, long lines, and pole and line. The income from this occupation is highly variable due to the unpredictable nature of tuna fishing. Tuna fishermen typically earn a base salary in addition to a percentage of the profits from each catch.
A tuna fisherman frequently owns a specific percentage of the fishing vessel that determines his income in addition to his base salary, if any. The captain typically receives half the net proceeds from the catch with lower-ranking crew members receiving smaller percentages of the profit. The captain deducts expenses such as fuel, repair costs and maintenance from the sale of the catch to obtain the net profit for that catch. He then distributes the net profits to the crew members according to their ownership percentage.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the wages for tuna fishermen in the United States from 2010. These workers earned an average annual salary of $27,880. The middle half of these fishermen earned an average salary of $25,590 per year. The bottom 10 percent earned $17,300 per year and the bottom fourth earned $19,880 per year. The upper fourth of fishermen in the United States earned a salary of $32,250 per year and the annual average salary for the top 10 percent of fishermen was $40,200.
The highest-paying states for tuna fishermen were Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey. The tuna fishermen in Washington averaged $30,240 per year, equal to an hourly wage of $14.54. Massachusetts paid its fishermen an average of $30,020 per year, equal to $14.43 per hour. The fishermen in Virginia earned an average of $29,710 per year, or $14.28 per hour. New Jersey paid its fishermen an average annual salary of $22,470, equal to an hourly wage of $10.80.
Tuna fishermen in the employ of the federal government earned the highest annual salaries with an average of $42,420 per year. The seafood product preparation and packaging industry paid its fishermen an average of $31,260 per year. Fishermen working for grocery wholesalers earned an average of $26,120 per year and fishermen in the sightseeing industry earned an average salary of $22,440 per year.