How to Work on a Lobster Boat
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Working on a lobster boat brings the potential to earn big money in a short period of time. The crew usually consists of the boat captain and one or two sternmen, sometimes referred to as deck hands. Each crew member earns a share of the catch and can make as much as $1,800 per week, according to Outside Magazine. The summer months rank as the peak season for lobstering.
You need to demonstrate your worthiness to land a job on a lobster boat. Boat captains desire workers with good strength and endurance. After all, lobster boat deckhands perform demanding physical labor, such as pulling lobster traps from the water, and the work schedule sometimes requires a 24-hour shift. Although you won’t be driving anywhere, your chances of landing a job increase if you have a driver’s license. Brushing up on your knot-tying skills also helps, and you should have steady hands since the job requires you to cut up bait for the traps while the ocean and wind rock the boat.
To work on a lobster boat, you need to walk the docks in seaside communities with a good lobster fishing job market. New England and the mid-Atlantic region, from New York to Maine, ranks at the top for lobster fishing, but Maine requires a two-year apprenticeship. While you might land a job on the spot, boat captains may not have time to talk. Therefore, you should prepare a resume and hand it to boat captains, who can review your qualifications at their convenience. Include good references and list relevant skills and applicable work experience.
Working on a lobster boat requires the appropriate gear. Captains need a boat, plus insurance, traps, buoys, dock space and nets. To start out as a boat captain, you will need to invest as much as $250,000. Sternmen need appropriate clothing: rubber boats, rubber gloves and rubber overalls.
Licensing and Regulations
To operate your own lobster boat, you need a state-issued commercial license. The cost ranges from about $200 to about $400, depending on the state. Sternmen do not need to purchase a license. Lobster fishing also requires you to know the rules. For example, the minimum legal size for lobster in Maine is three and one-quarter inches, as measured from the eye socket to the beginning of the tail. The maximum is five inches. If you keep lobster that are outside of the range or females carrying eggs, you can receive a fine. Repeat offenders risk losing their licenses. Regulations also limit the number of traps you may use and the kind of gear allowed.
- Outside: Before You Grow Up: Be a Lobster Boat Deckhand
- Trevor Corson: Q and A with Trevor Corson about Writing The Secret Life of Lobsters
- Business Insider: Here’s the Hard Work That Goes Into Catching Your Lobster
- The Working Chronicles: The Salty Lobsterman
- University of Maine: Lobster Basics-Job Descriptions
- Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Based in Central Florida, Ron White has worked as professional journalist since 2001. He specializes in sports and business. White started his career as a sportswriter and later worked as associate editor for Maintenance Sales News and as the assistant editor for "The Observer," a daily newspaper based in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. White has written more than 2,000 news and sports stories for newspapers and websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.