BBRSDA Offers Advice on How to Get Work in the Bristol Bay Fishery

Sockeye harvested at Bristol Bay near Nushagak. Photo: Härmägeddon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As commercial fishermen gear up for the upcoming Bristol Bay salmon fishery, with the usual forecast of a robust season involving the harvest of millions of sockeye salmon, the demand for good, hard-working crew is a priority item.  While many vessel owners and skippers rely on the same crew each year, others may be scrambling to fill crew slots and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association offers guidelines on how to get those jobs.

First of all, anyone who helps with the commercial harvest of salmon in Alaska must have a crew member license.  For Alaska residents, the cost is $60. For out of state residents, the cost is $252.

Crew members should be sure to have a printed copy of that license, plus a photo ID, with them onboard fishing vessels.  Information about crew member licenses and how to get one is online at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website,

Places to look for a Bristol Bay salmon fishing crew job include 

The allows free job postings, promotes the benefits of crew jobs and recruiting tools for Alaska employers, at

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers information on deckhand and other fishing vessel jobs via

There are also various Facebook pages where captains and crew can post, including

Crew contracts are required by law. A signed crew contract is a legal document that minimizes risk for both the skipper and crewmember by spelling out what duties are expected, how shares and expenses are divided and other details that could otherwise lead to conflict.  A key component is disclosure of pre-existing medical conditions, which could be important to skippers who need to defend against an injury claim. A crew contract should include information on the crewmember that includes their social security number, winter address and health insurance information. Many captains have an established crew contract they use but the above are links to examples for anyone needing more information.