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Fishing Vessel Operations and Leadership

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

A person wearing a hoodie and a personal floatation device navigates a fishing vessel while using a radio.
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

  • You gain practical work experience on a fishing vessel.
  • Sea time is a mandatory credit course, providing you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside of the classroom.
    • 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

  • 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.
  • This program places a high importance on providing you with the skills and knowledge to work safely in industry. Safety training is extended beyond regulatory requirements for additional safety.
  • For more detailed information specific to the marine industry, visit Careers at Sea.

2023-24 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2023

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Shelburne Campus Shelburne 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 details.
      • 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

  • 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 2022-23 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. 2023-24 tuition will be announced in the late Spring.

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.

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