Jan 6, 2020

Alaska Seafood How To: Streamline Your Fisherman Payment Operations

Alaska Seafood How To: Streamline Your Fisherman Payment Operations Blog Image

As an Alaska Seafood Processor, you want to be the best option to fish for so your fishermen keep coming back and understanding what they deal with can help you achieve that. So, before you decide on your practice for paying your fishermen, consider their perspective.

Consider Your Fishermen’s Perspective

Your fishermen’s responsibilities go far beyond simply catching seafood and delivering it to you, as do their stresses. Regardless of when they’ll get paid, your fishermen have to fork out the money for taxes, fees, permits, maintenance, etc., which is especially taxing (pun intended) when you consider the fact that your fishermen can never be certain how much money they’ll make in any given season until the money is in their hand – or bank account. In addition to the patience and uncertainty they must have, your fishermen have crews to manage and crew shares they have to pay out from what they make on their catch. Essentially, your fishermen are managing their own businesses so whatever you can do to take things off their plate can set you apart from the competition by better serving your fishermen. One way you can do this is by streamlining your payment operations for fishermen.

Streamline Paying Your Fishermen

Considering the above, we’ve rounded up your good, better, and best options for streamlining your fishermen’s payments.


Your simplest option for paying your fishermen is to cut one big, fat check to the captain/paid fisherman and let him/her be responsible for paying out the crew shares manually. While this option is simple, it’s not exactly the most helpful for your fishermen since they still carry the brunt of the responsibility. However, they’re still getting paid so that makes this a good option, especially if you implement our pro tip below of offering ACH/direct deposit for your fishermen to get their money sooner.

Pro Tip: Regardless of the method you use, offer ACH/direct deposit. Your fishermen already have to wait until the end of the season to receive their final payments, so let them get their money sooner without having to wait for their check to come in the mail by skipping the check altogether and opting for ACH/direct deposit payments.


A better option for your fishermen is for you to write multiple checks to cover the crew shares and pay the fisherman, all of which affect the captain’s/paid fisherman’s balance. Then, you would mail the payments for each crew member on the fisherman’s behalf. You can also offer the option to pay the fisherman less than he/she is owed and use the rest as a line of credit so the fisherman and his/her crew don’t run up a balance when they go back out on the water.

While this option takes a lot of responsibility off of your fishermen, making them happier, it means you have a lot more record keeping to do. For example, you’ll need to manage the paid fisherman’s balance, you’ll need the information for crew member’s payments, you’ll need to know the amounts to split, etc. Plus, there’s the added complication of crew members potentially switching boats so if you don’t keep a clean record of who you paid and when, you won’t know whose balance should be affected by paying out the crew member since they have fished under multiple fishermen.


Because the better option adds a lot of responsibility to your plate, the best option is to let NorthScope do the heavy lifting for you. NorthScope can help you:

  • Track individual fisherman balances with ease
  • Print and distribute Fisherman Statements that are easy to understand
  • Conveniently access all fishermen transactions
  • Pay fishermen with checks or ACH/Direct deposit
  • Split payments to cover crew wages
  • Track individual loans to fishermen
  • Charge interest on fisherman loans
  • Print and distribute loan statements
  • Apply payments to fisherman loans
  • Apply Fish Ticket balances to fisherman loans
  • Record purchases from fishermen with Fish Tickets
  • Record sales to fishermen
  • Transfer balances between fisherman accounts
  • Issue Purchase Orders to fishermen
  • Charge fishermen directly for AP purchases
  • Record payments from fishermen
  • Record sales made by tenders to fishermen
  • And more!

Whether you choose our suggested good, better, or best option – or something else entirely – for streamlining your fisherman payments, remember that the best practice is to treat your fishermen like the business owners they are.

Book a demo today to see how NorthScope can help you best partner with your fishermen.