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Fishing Vessel Operations and Leadership

Gain a broad understanding of the business of fisheries and safe work practices, as well as vessel and harvesting operations.

A person wearing a hoodie navigates a fishing vessel while using a wired radio for communication.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
30 Weeks
College Certificate

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This program prepares you for a career in commercial fish harvesting. You learn about safety and vessel operations, as well as the business of the fishing industry. Some of what you’ll study and apply in this program includes:

  • Seamanship skills
  • Practical fish harvesting skills
  • Navigation safety
  • Safe vessel operation
  • Chartwork and pilotage
  • Ship construction and stability
  • Simulated Electronic Navigation
  • Teamwork and leadership techniques
  • Fishing industry policies, regulations, and conservation
  • Entrepreneurial and business characteristics, mindsets and skills
You complete this program prepared to serve as a deck hand and with the training and certifications necessary to pursue a career as a Master or Mate on board fishing vessels.

Sea time

  • This program includes mandatory sea time that provides you with the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge you acquire during the program.
    • Opportunities may or may not be paid and last a minimum of 5 weeks.
    • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work placements are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • If you are accepted to the program and are a woman or Indigenous person you may be eligible for a $5000 bursary for annual tuition. Indigenous students who receive this award are also automatically considered for additional funds to assist with living expenses. Read more about the Ocean Dream Award for Women and Indigenous People.
  • This is the only program of its kind in Canada with a practical onboard component.
  • This is a practical, hands-on program that combines academic preparation and safety training to prepare you to challenge the applicable Transport Canada examinations associated with the Fishing Master, Fourth Class certification of competency.
  • This program places a high importance on providing you with the skills and knowledge to work safely in industry. Safety training regulatory requirements.
  • For more detailed information specific to the marine industry, visit Careers at Sea.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Shelburne Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available

Admission requirements

  • High School Graduation Diploma or equivalent
    • International students – High school diploma equivalency and English language requirements vary by country. View document and language requirements by country
      • International students may not be eligible for a Transport Canada certificate of competency unless granted citizenship or permanent resident status. You are strongly encouraged to verify currency of training with your government prior to registering. View additional Transport Canada details

Program requirements

  • You must provide a valid Transport Canada Marine Medical certificate indicating you are fit for service. You may be assessed by a variety of criteria including physical fitness, visual acuity, peripheral and colour vision, depth perception, and hearing sensitivity. Medical assessments can only be completed by a medical examiner recognized by Transport Canada. Visit Transport Canada for a list of authorized physicians, by location. Further details are provided with your acceptance notification.
  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2023-24 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Graduates of this program may serve as deck hands on fishing vessels or small commercial vessels while attaining sea-time.
  • After 12 months of Transport Canada approved sea-time, graduates may complete or challenge the Transport Canada examinations associated with the Fishing Master, Fourth Class certificate of competency.
  • With this Transport Canada certificate, graduates may serve as a Master or Mate on board fishing vessels of a size and specification defined by Transport Canada.
  • Seek self employment and operate a fishing enterprise

Future study options

  • Graduates of this program who’ve attained the necessary sea-time can pursue a Transport Canada Certificate of Competency – Fishing Master, Fourth Class.
  • The program also provides the foundation for you to continue your training to achieve further or additional Transport Canada certifications.

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

MARI 1061 - General Seamanship Fishing Master Fourth Class
This course prepares students to demonstrate appropriate responses, anticipations and reactions to a range of routine, non-routine and contingency scenarios based on the perspective of the duties and responsibilities associated with the Fishing Master, Fourth Class certificate.

MARI 7000 - Marine Advanced First Aid
This course meets Transport Canada Training Program Standards in Marine First Aid (TP 13008E) for certification of Seafarers, (Officers and Watchkeepers). This course covers a variety of topics including Body Structure and Function, Toxicological Hazards, Spinal Injuries, Burns, Fractures, Hypothermia, Pharmacology, Sterilization and Cardiac Arrest. Candidates will be required to complete a written exam and perform a variety of practical skills.

MARI 7012 - Chartwork and Pilotage 1
This course teaches how to plan and conduct safe navigation through the interpretation and use of nautical charts and publications, including study of the Canadian Aids to navigation system. Students will learn to use various methods to determine a vessel’s position. Accurate record keeping of vessel’s progress will be highlighted including how to determine and correct for compass errors.

MARI 7019 - Restricted Operator Certificate - Maritime Commercial (GMDSS-ROC-MC)
This Industry Canada approved course will enable radio station personnel to efficiently utilize aspects of the GMDSS communications systems applicable to Sea Area 1 operations. This course adheres to the fundamental recommendations for training of maritime radio personnel as outlined in the Industry Canada RIC-25. Upon successful completion of this course, ROC-MC Certificates will be issued.

MARI 7121 - Navigation Safety 1
This course provides thorough knowledge of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea with Canadian Modifications, generally referred to as the “Collision Regulations” that will allow participants to apply the rules in practical situations. In addition, students will develop an understanding of the principles to be observed when carrying out a navigational watch as outlined in the STCW Code.

MARI 7127 - Ship Construction and Stability 1
This course introduces basic vessel construction theory and terminology. Students will learn about vessel stability principles which allow for safe vessel operation in many environmental conditions. Hull integrity, vessel maintenance and anti-rolling devices will also be explored.

MARI 7143 - Simulated Electronic Navigation - Limited
Students in this course will learn to use typical navigation electronic equipment found on board a coastal vessel. RADAR, marine compasses, and GPS / DGPS will be reviewed, and situational awareness will be discussed.

MARI 7210 - Practical Fisheries Operations
Develop hands-on skills related to tying and splicing ropes, maintaining fishing gear, and completing minor vessel repairs. Students will also learn about harvesting and conservation techniques used in the industry.

MARI 7211 - Fisheries Safety Awareness
This course introduces a variety of safety concepts and practices for operating a small fishing vessel. Safety as it relates to people, environment and equipment will be introduced. Training in a variety of topics will be provided including, first aid, emergency duties, safe and respectful workplaces including safe and substance free transportation, and marine mental health first aid.

MARI 7212 - Leadership and Entrepreneurship for Fisheries
This course focuses on leadership and entrepreneurship in the fishing industry. It introduces a wide variety of topics in areas of fisheries business, regulation, and policy as well as social and economic factors affecting current and future fisheries trends.

MARI 7213 - Practical Sea Phase
This course provides the student with an opportunity to apply theory learned in the program and develop practical skills through completion of tasks detailed in an onboard training book. Tasks will span Familiarization and Safety, practical on deck fishing and wheelhouse operations. Sea time approved by Transport Canada can be credited towards the Fishing Master Certificate of Competency.

SAFE 1045 - Safe and Substance Free Marine Workplace
Safe workplaces are everyone’s responsibility. Workplace statistics indicate that substance use directly and indirectly impacts performance and safety. This course will help students identify the impacts of substance use and impairment on safety in the marine workplace, as well as ways regulations, policies, procedures, and resources can protect everyone.

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Join us to learn more about the Fishing Vessel...
Apr. 10, 2024
6 - 7 pm

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