California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program

Commercial Fisher Apprenticeship Workshop Header

Training for a 21st Century Fishing Career

The 2024 San diego program is now underway and we are gauging interest from all california ports!


thinking of participating? Or do you want CCFAP to come to your town?

Prospective apprentices enter your information here

Interested captains enter your information here


The program consists of ~130 hours of shore-based workshops coordinated & hosted by California Sea Grant and education partners followed by 1,000 hours of on-the-job training under California licensed commercial fishermen.

Please make sure you understand and comply with the entry requirements described below.

Learn as you work under experienced California fishermen

fisheries science, conservation & practice -- boat & fishing gear competency -- business & marketing -- safety & seamanship
Woman at helm of fishing boat.


Why become a fishing apprentice?

Fishing can be a viable career, especially given the growing demand for local, responsibly sourced seafood. But how can you get started in the business?

Regulations are complex. Working at sea can be challenging. Selling the product—especially new and emerging fish species that people may not know about—requires business and marketing skills. By apprenticing with experienced fishermen, you can gain the knowledge and skills to launch your career in fishing.


What’s involved?

The training program will take 6 to 12 months, starting with about 130 hours of workshop instruction followed by a minimum of 1,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training. Trainees earn money while they work and workshops, whenever possible, are tuition free or price reduced.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old, be nominated by a licensed commercial fisherman sponsor, meet program entry criteria and pass a probationary period before working on boats.

Woman holding lobster at fish market.

Workshops: Workshop instruction prepares you for and supplements on-the-job training. You will learn about various aspects of the occupation, such as marine science, fisheries management, data collection, safety, seamanship, marketing and business. Workshops will be conducted over a four-week period at the start of the program and will be provided through partnerships with public and private education groups. Some activities will be online.

Hands-on experience: Licensed California commercial fishermen provide training before, during and after fishing trips to teach you how to prepare, operate, maintain, repair and stow boats and gear. Training also covers the sale of catch.


Certificates of Completion

After the program, you will have gained a solid foundation in modern commercial fishing skills and an understanding of the environment in which fishermen work. By the end of the program, you will receive the following certificates or cards:

  • California Boater Card (a pre-requisite of the program)
  • The California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program
  • USCG-recognized CPR/First Aid/AED
  • USCG-recognized Drill Conductor Training


How do I find a licensed commercial fisherman sponsor?

You will need to connect with a fisherman who is willing to hire you as a crew member for your 1,000 hours of on-the-job training. So, head down to the docks, visit your local fishermen's market and make those connections!

How do I register?

Registration is closed for now, but if interested in future training, please fill out the Apprentice Registration form. (And get started on finding a commercial fisherman sponsor). 

Please download our flyer for more information on apprenticeship!


Are you a commercial fisherman who wants to sponsor and Mentor an apprentice? Let us know!

Please fill out this form and we'll be in touch.

Why become a mentor?

You will have access to our pool of apprentices - if you are looking for productive crew members who are proud of their work, eager to learn, and invested in the industry - these are pre-screened, well-trained, potential crew members. As a mentor, you will also establish stronger connections and relationships with scientists, managers and others in the community who can help to address fishing industry needs. Your participation and support for the success of the program means recognition and potential funding to offset future training costs for trainers and apprentices.

What are my responsibilities as mentor/sponsor?

As mentor, you take an apprentice on as a working deckhand for 1000 hours of paid, comprehensive, on-the-job training. Show your apprentice the hands-on work necessary to operate a commercial fishing business, while maintaining a safe, equitable, and respectful work environment. We provide guidance and checklists for evaluating the apprentice's skills so that you can maintain and submit records of their on-the-job training hours, and achievement of milestones. If your fishing schedule is not continuous throughout the year or season, you may consider co-sponsoring with other fishermen.

Your participation may not only strengthen your business, but will help to ensure a future for commercial fishing in California. Take pride in being a leader and role model, treat apprentices with grace, respect, and fairness that you expect for yourself - and train them to the best of your abilities.


The San Diego January-February 2024 Workshop Schedule


Please note - workshops are in-person in the San Diego region for 2024.

Before 1/8flexibleCalifornia Boater CardOnline, BoatUS Foundation
1/16 - 1/17daytimeMarine Electrical SystemsThe Maritime Institute
1/18 - 1/20, 1/26daytime

Seafood Business, Marketing & Cross-over Skills

Tuna Harbor, Driscoll's Wharf
1/22- 1/24daytime

Fishing Science, Conservation & Practice

Scripps Oceanography & Tuna Harbor
1/25daytimeDrill Conductor TrainingThe Maritime Institute
1/26flexibleClean BoatingOnline
1/29 - 1/30daytimeFishermen's First Aid & Safety TrainingThe Maritime Institute
1/31 - 2/1daytimeBoat ControlThe Maritime Institute
2/12 - 2/16eveningsDiesel Engine MaintenanceThe Maritime Institute



Contact information

California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program
California Sea Grant, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. #0232
La Jolla, CA 92093-0232