This article comes by way of the Kentreporter.com Greg Moncrief of the F/V Far West Leader gave a presentation to high school students on how to get in the fishing business. For those who don’t know, the Far West Leader is a Trident Seafood owned fishing vessel so the presentation was actually by Greg and Trident. For those of you contemplating working in Alaska, or wanting to become a commercial fisherman…This is how many fishermen start their careers–processing fish!
by By Daniel Mooney
Sixteen hours a day in a seafood processing plant doesn’t sound quite as exciting as braving the Bering sea in search of Alaskan king crab. But that’s how most fishermen get their start, Kent-Meridian High School students discovered May 21.Captain Greg Moncrief told them all about it. “It’s tough, but it’s a good way to get started,” he said. “You can go away, make money and not spend it.”
Moncrief began his career as a seafood processor, but now he’s one of the most famous captains in the country. He and his crew on fishing vessel Farwest Leader are featured on the Discovery Channel reality show, “Deadliest Catch.”
The TV celebrity came to Kent-Meridian last Monday with Trident Seafoods Corporation representative Synnove Davidson to present the students with career opportunities in the seafood industry.
They presented a Trident Seafoods career to the students of Maryann Zepp’s Adult Living and Life on Your Own classes, leaving no false impressions about the nature of an entry-level position. They showed a Trident recruitment film to start.
“We operate at the end of the world, where there is virtually nothing to do but eat, sleep and work,” the voice on the film stated, one of the many disclaimers it gave to its prospective employees.
The entry-level seafood job is far from adventurous and even further from glamorous, Davidson explained after the film. Employees sign contracts for six weeks to six months, being sent to one of the canneries, shore plants or processing vessels along the Alaskan coast. During that time, 16-hour work days, cafeteria meals and close sleeping quarters in the on-site barracks make up their lives.
The students didn’t seem so excited about trying for a “Deadliest Catch” career after the hearing the job description, but Davidson said there are benefits. Overtime pay accumulates quickly when you’re working 16-hour days, seven days a week, she said, and there’s definite room for advancement.
“We have a lot of people who started as processors and are now captains, mates, engineers,” Davidson said. “It’s a great way to save money and get out there in the industry.”
Moncrief, a 20-year veteran of the fishing industry, said most of his crew members have moved up from the entry level to find a place on his boat.
“A couple times, I’ve hired people right off the docks,” he said.
After the presentation, the students had a chance to ask the captain questions about the show and his adventures on the Bering Sea. This season of “Deadliest Catch,” which began April 3, is Moncrief’s first season on the show, and he said being on TV was strange at first.
“You get used to it after a while, but now, I can’t even go to the mall without someone recognizing me,” he said.
And as for life on the Bering Sea, he said it’s dangerous, but he and his crew stay safe using their heads.
“There are some things beyond your control, but most things can be fixed with better judgment,” he said. “Waves can come out of nowhere, but if the weather’s really that bad, we don’t fish. We stay inside and ride it out.”