I’ve always been in commercial fishing. What are my options if I have to transition jobs?

Job transition programs, trainings, certification options for experienced fishermen/women.

Many commercial fishery workers have skills applicable to other industries, especially marine services. Development of boat captaining, mechanical, and welding skills through trainings and certifications could help to create a more flexible coastal labor force that can adjust to disasters, economic market shocks and general business interruption.

In July 2010 GNO, Inc. completed a Fisheries Focus Group Study with 75 Louisiana fishermen participants. Generally, if the impact of the oil spill is profound, commercial fishermen are not particularly prepared for finding new careers. They have few skills outside of commercial fishing, and have a hard time seeing how informal skills like mechanics or carpentry are viable skills for new businesses. Commercial fishermen also face numerous barriers to finding new jobs, ranging from the lack of formal education or literacy, to advancing age, poor health, and lack of resources to move forward.

Additionally, transitioning jobs is not an ideal solution for many fishermen. When asked about leaving the fisheries industry, one participant in New Orleans East said “That is the worst case scenario – changing your career”. No one was interested in leaving the fisheries industry. This was primarily due to the ambiguity of the scale of the oil spill, a personal reluctance toward leaving commercial fishing, and the feeling that fishermen can’t do anything else. Even when the declining state of the industry before the oil spill was discussed – including the rising cost of diesel and the reduced purchase price of product at the dock – participants still did not have any interest in leaving commercial fishing. Almost everyone felt that they were committed to fishing for life, and will only leave the industry if they are forced to. GNO, Inc. has released a Guide to Basic Licenses and Endorsements in the US Maritimes in order to support any necessary transitions through job training and certification programs.

The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) is the leading workforce association that represents the nation’s nearly 600 business-led Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and also serves other associated organizations in the workforce industry with one common goal: Helping America Work. This website also provides helpful “One Stops” with comprehensive information on working in specific industries such as energy. The Louisiana Workforce Commission oversees the LA Works Rapid Response Program which provides job assistance services for workers and employers including Oil Spill Response jobs. Resources include layoff coordination meetings, on-site worker orientations, on-site job search workshops, job fairs, additional/partner agency workshops, on-site workforce transition centers and assessment/job counseling.

Locations: Business & Career Solutions Centers:

Gretna: 504-227-1283
West Jefferson Career Solutions Center, 1900 Lafayette St, Gretna, LA

Algiers: 504-658-4580
West Bank Orleans Career Solutions center – Job 1, 3520 Gen. DeGaulle Dr,
Algiers, LA

Belle Chasse: 504-392-5803
Plaquemines Career Solutions Center, 1112 Engineers Road, Room 19, Belle
Chasse, LA

Chalmette: 504-355-4439
St. Bernard Career Solutions Center, 8201 W. Judge Perez Dr, Chalmette, LA

LaPlace: 985-652-3471
St. John the Baptist Parish Career Solutions Center, 975 Cambridge Dr, LaPlace,

Metairie: 504-838-5678-111
East Jefferson Business & Career Solutions Center, 1801 Airline Dr, Suite A,
Metairie, LA

New Orleans: 504-658-4500
East Bank Orleans Career Solutions Center Job 1, 2330 Canal St, New Orleans, LA

Slidell: 985-646-6410
St. Tammany Career Solutions Center, 316 E. Howze Beach Ln, Slidell, LA

Following Hurricane Katrina, the most recent, large-scale disaster in Louisiana, less than half of commercial fishermen were able to continue their professions, though interestingly, seafood landings did not decrease significantly. A group of scientists headed by Rex H. Caffey, released the paper “Estimating the Economic Damage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Commercial and Recreation Fishing Industries” which provides comprehensive analysis of post-disaster industry shifts. This reported mass-exodus from the commercial fishing industry (a total of 6,402 vessels reported landings in Louisiana pre-Katrina/Rita and only 2,997 in the year after the storms) was due in a large part to storm damaged vessels, many of which were uninsured. Thus, one should not automatically expect the same decrease in commercial fishing landings with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.