Fishing vessel

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Crab boat working the North Sea Krabbenkutter Ivonne Pellworm P5242390jm.JPG
Crab boat working the North Sea
Robustly designed contemporary fishing boat Macduff, High and dry - - 1374026.jpg
Robustly designed contemporary fishing boat

A fishing vessel is a boat or ship used to catch fish in the sea, or on a lake or river. Many different kinds of vessels are used in commercial, artisanal and recreational fishing.


The total number of fishing vessels in the world in 2016 was estimated to be about 4.6 million, unchanged from 2014. The fleet in Asia was the largest, consisting of 3.5 million vessels, accounting for 75 percent of the global fleet. [1] In Africa and North America the estimated number of vessels declined from 2014 by just over 30,000 and by nearly 5,000, respectively. For Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania the numbers all increased, largely as a result of improvements in estimation procedures. [2] [1]

It is difficult to estimate the number of recreational fishing boats. They range in size from small dinghies to large charter cruisers, and unlike commercial fishing vessels, are often not dedicated just to fishing.

Prior to the 1950s there was little standardisation of fishing boats. Designs could vary between ports and boatyards. Traditionally boats were built of wood, but wood is not often used now because of higher maintenance costs and lower durability. Fibreglass is used increasingly in smaller fishing vessels up to 25 metres (100 tons), while steel is usually used on vessels above 25 metres.


Traditional fishing boats

Viking boat showing clinker planking. Gokstadskipet1.jpg
Viking boat showing clinker planking.

Early fishing vessels included rafts, dugout canoes, and boats constructed from a frame covered with hide or tree bark, along the lines of a coracle. [3] The oldest boats found by archaeological excavation are dugout canoes dating back to the Neolithic Period around 7,000-9,000 years ago. These canoes were often cut from coniferous tree logs, using simple stone tools. [3] [4] A 7,000-year-old seagoing boat made from reeds and tar has been found in Kuwait. [5] These early vessels had limited capability; they could float and move on water, but were not suitable for use any great distance from the shoreline. They were used mainly for fishing and hunting.

The development of fishing boats took place in parallel with the development of boats for trade and war. Early navigators began to use animal skins or woven fabrics for sails. Affixed to a pole set upright in the boat, these sails gave early boats more range, allowing voyages of exploration.

Around 4000 B.C., Egyptians were building long narrow boats powered by many oarsmen. Over the next 1,000 years, they made a series of remarkable advances in boat design. They developed cotton-made sails to help their boats go faster with less work. Then they built boats large enough to cross the oceans. These boats had sails and oarsmen, and were used for travel and trade. By 3000 BC, the Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood into a ship hull. [6] They used woven straps to lash planks together, [6] and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks to seal the seams. [6] An example of their skill is the Khufu ship, a vessel 143 feet (44 m) in length entombed at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2,500 BC and found intact in 1954.

At about the same time, the Scandinavians were also building innovative boats. People living near Kongens Lyngby in Denmark, came up with the idea of segregated hull compartments, which allowed the size of boats to gradually be increased. A crew of some two dozen paddled the wooden Hjortspring boat across the Baltic Sea long before the rise of the Roman Empire. Scandinavians continued to develop better ships, incorporating iron and other metal into the design and developing oars for propulsion.

By 1000 A.D. the Norsemen were pre-eminent on the oceans. They were skilled seamen and boat builders, with clinker-built boat designs that varied according to the type of boat. Trading boats, such as the knarrs, were wide to allow large cargo storage. Raiding boats, such as the longship, were long and narrow and very fast. The vessels they used for fishing were scaled down versions of their cargo boats. The Scandinavian innovations influenced fishing boat design long after the Viking period came to an end. For example, yoles from the Orkney Island of Stroma were built in the same way as the Norse boats.

Early modern designs

Herring Buss taking aboard its drift net (G. Groenewegen). Groenewegen.D3.Buis.jpg
Herring Buss taking aboard its drift net (G. Groenewegen).

In the 15th century, the Dutch developed a type of seagoing herring drifter that became a blueprint for European fishing boats. This was the Herring Buss, used by Dutch herring fishermen until the early 19th centuries. The ship type buss has a long history. It was known around 1000 AD in Scandinavia as a bǘza, a robust variant of the Viking longship. The first herring buss was probably built in Hoorn around 1415. The ship was about 20 metres long and displaced between 60 and 100 tons. It was a massive round-bilged keel ship with a bluff bow and stern, the latter relatively high, and with a gallery. The busses used long drifting gill nets to catch the herring. The nets would be retrieved at night and the crews of eighteen to thirty men [7] would set to gibbing, salting and barrelling the catch on the broad deck.

A dogger viewed from before the port beam. c. 1675 by Willem van de Velde the Younger. Dogger (boat).jpg
A dogger viewed from before the port beam. c. 1675 by Willem van de Velde the Younger.

During the 17th century, the British developed the dogger, an early type of sailing trawler or longliner, which commonly operated in the North Sea. [8] Doggers were slow but sturdy, capable of fishing in the rough conditions of the North Sea. [9] Like the herring buss, they were wide-beamed and bluff-bowed, but considerably smaller, about 15 metres long, a maximum beam of 4.5 metres, a draught of 1.5 metres, and displacing about 13 tonnes. They could carry a tonne of bait, three tonnes of salt, half a tonne each of food and firewood for the crew, and return with six tonnes of fish. [9] Decked areas forward and aft probably provided accommodation, storage and a cooking area. An anchor would have allowed extended periods fishing in the same spot, in waters up to 18 metres deep. The dogger would also have carried a small open boat for maintaining lines and rowing ashore. [9]

A precursor to the dory type was the early French bateau type, a flat bottom boat with straight sides used as early as 1671 on the Saint Lawrence River. [10] The common coastal boat of the time was the wherry and the merging of the wherry design with the simplified flat bottom of the bateau resulted in the birth of the dory. England, France, Italy, and Belgium have small boats from medieval periods that could reasonably be construed as predecessors of the Dory. [11]

Dories appeared in New England fishing towns sometime after the early 18th century. [12] They were small, shallow-draft boats, usually about five to seven metres (15 to 22 feet) long. Lightweight and versatile, with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows, they were easy and cheap to build. The Banks dories appeared in the 1830s. They were designed to be carried on mother ships and used for fishing cod at the Grand Banks. [12] Adapted almost directly from the low freeboard, French river bateaus, with their straight sides and removable thwarts, bank dories could be nested inside each other and stored on the decks of fishing schooners, such as the Gazela Primeiro , for their trip to the Grand Banks fishing grounds.

Modern fishing trawler

A Brixham trawler by William Adolphus Knell. The painting is now in the National Maritime Museum. A Brixham trawler.jpg
A Brixham trawler by William Adolphus Knell. The painting is now in the National Maritime Museum.

The British dogger was an early type of sailing trawler from the 17th century, but the modern fishing trawler was developed in the 19th century, at the English fishing port of Brixham.

By the early 19th century, the fishermen at Brixham needed to expand their fishing area further than ever before due to the ongoing depletion of stocks that was occurring in the overfished waters of South Devon. The Brixham trawler that evolved there was of a sleek build and had a tall gaff rig, which gave the vessel sufficient speed to make long distance trips out to the fishing grounds in the ocean. They were also sufficiently robust to be able to tow large trawls in deep water. The great trawling fleet that built up at Brixham, earned the village the title of 'Mother of Deep-Sea Fisheries'.

This revolutionary design made large scale trawling in the ocean possible for the first time, resulting in a massive migration of fishermen from the ports in the South of England, to villages further north, such as Scarborough, Hull, Grimsby, Harwich and Yarmouth, that were points of access to the large fishing grounds in the Atlantic Ocean.

The small village of Grimsby grew to become the largest fishing port in the world by the mid 19th century. [13] [14] With the tremendous expansion in the fishing industry, the Grimsby Dock Company was formed in 1846. The dock covered 25 acres (10 ha) and was formally opened by Queen Victoria in 1854 as the first modern fishing port. The facilities incorporated many innovations of the time - the dock gates and cranes were operated by hydraulic power, and the 300-foot (91 m) Grimsby Dock Tower was built to provide a head of water with sufficient pressure by William Armstrong. [15]

The elegant Brixham trawler spread across the world, influencing fishing fleets everywhere. Their distinctive sails inspired the song Red Sails in the Sunset, written aboard a Brixham sailing trawler called the Torbay Lass. [16] [17] By the end of the 19th century, there were over 3,000 fishing trawlers in commission in Britain, with almost 1,000 at Grimsby. These trawlers were sold to fishermen around Europe, including from the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Twelve trawlers went on to form the nucleus of the German fishing fleet. [18]

Although fishing vessel designed increasingly began to converge around the world, local conditions still often led the development of different types of fishing boats. The Lancashire nobby was used down the north west coast of England as a shrimp trawler from 1840 until World War II. The Manx nobby was used around the Isle of Man as a herring drifter. The fifie was also used as a herring drifter along the east coast of Scotland from the 1850s until well into the 20th century.

Advent of steam power

The earliest steam powered fishing boats first appeared in the 1870s and used the trawl system of fishing as well as lines and drift nets. These were large boats, usually 80–90 feet (24–27 m) in length with a beam of around 20 feet (6.1 m). They weighed 40-50 tons and travelled at 9–11 knots (17–20 km/h; 10–13 mph).

The earliest purpose built fishing vessels were designed and made by David Allan in Leith in March 1875, when he converted a drifter to steam power. In 1877, he built the first screw propelled steam trawler in the world. This vessel was Pioneer LH854. She was of wooden construction with two masts and carried a gaff rigged main and mizen using booms, and a single foresail. Pioneer is mentioned in The Shetland Times of 4 May 1877. In 1878 he completed Forward and Onward, steam-powered trawlers for sale. Allan built a total of ten boats at Leith between 1877 and 1881. Twenty-one boats were completed at Granton, his last vessel being Degrave in 1886. Most of these were sold to foreign owners in France, Belgium, Spain and the West Indies. [19]

Seine Net Trawler, Hopeman 1958. Seine Net Trawler Hopeman 1958 - - 84412.jpg
Seine Net Trawler, Hopeman 1958.

The first steam boats were made of wood, but steel hulls were soon introduced and were divided into watertight compartments. They were well designed for the crew with a large building that contained the wheelhouse and the deckhouse. The boats built in the 20th century only had a mizzen sail, which was used to help steady the boat when its nets were out. The main function of the mast was now as a crane for lifting the catch ashore. It also had a steam capstan on the foredeck near the mast for hauling nets. The boats had narrow, high funnels so that the steam and thick coal smoke was released high above the deck and away from the fishermen. These funnels were nicknamed woodbines because they looked like the popular brand of cigarette. These boats had a crew of twelve made up of a skipper, driver, fireman (to look after the boiler) and nine deck hands. [19]

Steam fishing boats had many advantages. They were usually about 20 ft longer (6.1 m) than the sailing vessels so they could carry more nets and catch more fish. This was important, as the market was growing quickly at the beginning of the 20th century. They could travel faster and further and with greater freedom from weather, wind and tide. Because less time was spent travelling to and from the fishing grounds, more time could be spent fishing. The steam boats also gained the highest prices for their fish, as they could return quickly to harbour with their fresh catch. The main disadvantage of the steam boats, though, was their high operating costs. Their engines were mechanically inefficient and took up much space, while fuel and fitting out costs were very high. Before the First World War, building costs were between 3,000 and £4,000, at least three times the cost of the sail boats. To cover these high costs, they needed to fish for longer seasons. The higher expenses meant that more steam drifters were company-owned or jointly owned. As the herring fishing industry declined, steam boats became too expensive. [19] Steam trawlers were introduced at Grimsby and Hull in the 1880s. In 1890 it was estimated that there were 20,000 men on the North Sea. The steam drifter was not used in the herring fishery until 1897. The last sailing fishing trawler was built in 1925 in Grimsby.

Further development

Armed trawler HNoMS Honningsvag off Iceland. HNoMS Honningsvag.jpg
Armed trawler HNoMS Honningsvåg off Iceland.

Trawler designs adapted as the way they were powered changed from sail to coal-fired steam by World War I to diesel and turbines by the end of World War II.

The first trawlers fished over the side, rather than over the stern. In 1947, the company Christian Salvesen, based in Leith, Scotland, refitted a surplus Algerine-class minesweeper (HMS Felicity) with refrigeration equipment and a factory ship stern ramp, to produce the first combined freezer/stern trawler in 1947. [20]

The first purpose built stern trawler was Fairtry built in 1953 at Aberdeen. The ship was much larger than any other trawlers then in operation and inaugurated the era of the 'super trawler'. As the ship pulled its nets over the stern, it could lift out a much greater haul of up to 60 tons. Lord Nelson followed in 1961, installed with vertical plate freezers that had been researched and built at the Torry Research Station. These ships served as a basis for the expansion of 'super trawlers' around the world in the following decades. [20]

In recent decades, commercial fishing vessels have been increasingly equipped with electronic aids, such as radio navigation aids and fish finders. During the Cold War, some countries fitted fishing trawlers with additional electronic gear so they could be used as spy ships to monitor the activities of other countries.

Globally, the number of engine-powered vessels was estimated to be 2.8 million in 2016, this represents 61 percent of all fishing vessels, down from 64 percent in 2014, as the number of non-motorized vessels increased, probably because of improved estimations. [1] In 2016, about 86 percent of the motorized fishing vessels in the world were in the length overall (LOA) class of less than 12 m, the vast majority of which were undecked, and those small vessels dominated in all regions. Conversely, the largest vessels, classified as those with LOA greater than 24 m made up about 2 percent of the total fleet. [1]

About 1.3 million of these are decked vessels with enclosed areas. Nearly all of these decked vessels are mechanised, and 40,000 of them are over 100 tons. At the other extreme, two-thirds (1.8 million) of the undecked boats are traditional craft of various types, powered only by sail and oars. [2] These boats are used by artisan fishers.

Commercial vessels

The German factory ship Kiel NC 105 Deutsche Fischfang Union Schiff Kiel 01.jpg
The German factory ship Kiel NC 105

The 200-mile fishing limit has changed fishing patterns and, in recent times, fishing boats are becoming more specialised and standardised. In the United States and Canada more use is made of large factory trawlers, while the huge blue water fleets operated by Japan and the Soviet-bloc countries have contracted. In western Europe, fishing vessel design is focused on compact boats with high catching power.

Commercial fishing is a high risk industry, and countries are introducing regulations governing the construction and operation of fishing vessels. The International Maritime Organization, convened in 1959 by the United Nations, is responsible for devising measures aimed at the prevention of accidents, including standards for ship design, construction, equipment, operation and manning.

According to the FAO, in 2004 the world's fishing fleet consisted of 4 million vessels. Of these, 1.3 million were decked vessels with enclosed areas. The rest were open vessels, of which two-thirds were traditional craft propelled by sails and oars. [2] By contrast, nearly all decked vessels were mechanized. Of the decked vessels, 86 percent are found in Asia, 7.8 percent in Europe, 3.8 percent in North and Central America, 1.3 percent in Africa, 0.6 percent in South America and 0.4 percent in Oceania. [2] Most commercial fishing boats are small, usually less than 30 metres (98 ft) but up to 100 metres (330 ft) for a large purse seiner or factory ship.

Commercial fishing vessels can be classified by architecture, the type of fish they catch, the fishing method used, or geographical origin. The following classification follows the FAO, [21] who classify commercial fishing vessels by the gear they use.

Fishing gear


Drawing of a large trawler.gif

A trawler is a fishing vessel designed to use trawl nets in order to catch large volumes of fish. [22]


A seiner fishing for salmon off the coast of Raspberry Island, Alaska. Seiner off the coast of the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska 2009 218.jpg
A seiner fishing for salmon off the coast of Raspberry Island, Alaska.

Seiners use surrounding and seine nets. This is a large group ranging from open boats as small as 10 metres (33 ft) in length to ocean-going vessels. There are also specialised gears that can target demersal species. [31] [32]

Line vessels

Line vessels –

External image
Searchtool.svg Tuna Fishing – South PacificBBC Documentary
Drawing of a troll vessel.gif
Long liner in Cook Strait, New Zealand 1988.jpg
Japanese squid jigger
Squid jigger electric lamps.JPG
Electric lamps on squid jigger

Other vessels

Drawing of a gill netter.gif
Lobster fishing boats YarmouthNS FishingBoats.jpg
Lobster fishing boats
Fishing boat in a heavy sea French Fishing Vessel 'Alf' in the Irish Sea MOD 45155246.jpg
Fishing boat in a heavy sea
The fisheries research vessel RV Celtic Explorer RV Celtic Explorer, Galway Bay, Ireland.jpg
The fisheries research vessel RV Celtic Explorer

Artisan vessels

Artisan fishing is small-scale commercial or subsistence fishing, particularly practices involving coastal or island ethnic groups using traditional fishing techniques and traditional boats. This may also include heritage groups involved in customary fishing practices.

According to the FAO, at the end of 2004, the world fishing fleet consisted of about 4 million vessels, of which 2.7 million were undecked (open) boats. While nearly all decked vessels were mechanized, only one-third of the undecked fishing boats were powered, usually with outboard engines. The remaining 1.8 million boats were traditional craft of various types, operated by sail and oars. [2]

These figures for small fishing vessels are probably under reported. The FAO compiles these figures largely from national registers. These records often omit smaller boats where registration is not required or where fishing licences are granted by provincial or municipal authorities. [2]

Artisan fishing boats are usually small traditional fishing boats, appropriately designed for use on their local inland waters or coasts. Many localities around the world have developed their own traditional types of fishing boats, adapted to use local materials suitable for boat building and to the specific requirements of the fisheries and sea conditions in their area. Artisan boats are often open (undecked). Many have sails, but they do not usually use much, or any mechanised or electronic gear. Large numbers of artisan fishing boats are still in use, particularly in developing countries with long productive marine coastlines. For example, Indonesia has reported about 700,000 fishing boats, 25 percent of which are dugout canoes, and half of which are without motors. [56] The Philippines have reported a similar number of small fishing boats. Many of the boats in this area are double-outrigger craft, consisting of a narrow main hull with two attached outriggers, commonly known as jukung in Indonesia and banca in the Philippines. [57]

Recreational vessels

Drawing of a sport fishing boat.gif

Recreational fishing is done for pleasure or sport, and not for profit or survival. Just about anything that will stay afloat can be called a recreational fishing boat, so long as a fisher periodically climbs aboard with the intent to catch a fish. Usually some form of fishing tackle is brought on board, such as hooks, lines, sinkers or nets. Fish are caught for recreational purposes from boats which range from dugout canoes, kayaks, rafts, pontoon boats and small dinghies to runabouts, cabin cruisers and cruising yachts to large, hi-tech and luxurious big game rigs. [58] Larger boats, purpose-built with recreational fishing in mind, usually have large, open cockpits at the stern, designed for convenient fishing.

Big game fishing started as a sport after the invention of the motorized boat. Charles Frederick Holder, a marine biologist and early conservationist, is credited with founding the sport in 1898. [59] Purpose built game fishing boats appeared shortly after. An example is the Crete, in use at Catalina Island, California, in 1915, and shipped to Hawaii the following year. According to a newspaper report at that time, the Crete had "a deep cockpit, a chair fitted for landing big fish and leather pockets for placing the pole." [60]

It is difficult to estimate how many recreational fishing boats there are, although the number is high. The term is fluid, since most recreational boats are also used for fishing from time to time. Unlike most commercial fishing vessels, recreational fishing boats are often not dedicated just to fishing.

Standard aluminum bass boat, with trolling motor Bassboat1.jpg
Standard aluminum bass boat, with trolling motor

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 In brief, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2018 (PDF). FAO. 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 FAO 2007
  3. 1 2 McGrail 2001, page 431
  4. "Oldest Boat Unearthed". Archived from the original on 2009-01-02. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  5. Lawler, Andrew (June 7, 2002). "Report of Oldest Boat Hints at Early Trade Routes". Science. AAAS. 296 (5574): 1791–1792. doi:10.1126/science.296.5574.1791. PMID   12052936. S2CID   36178755 . Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  6. 1 2 3 Ward, Cheryl (May–June 2001). "World's Oldest Planked Boats". Archaeology . 54 (3).
  7. De Vries & Woude (1977), pages 244–245
  8. Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, p. 256
  9. 1 2 3 Fagan 2008
  10. Gardner 1987, page 18
  11. Gardner 1987, page 15
  12. 1 2 Chapelle, page 85
  13. Grimsby heyday of the 'three-day millionaire' BBC, 15 November 2012
  14. "A brief history of Grimsby".
  15. "Great Grimsby". UK Genealogy Archives.
  16. "History of a Brixham trawler". 2 March 2009. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  17. "Pilgrim's restoration under full sail". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  18. Sailing trawlers.
  19. 1 2 3 "The Steam Trawler".
  20. 1 2 "HISTORY". Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2015-07-05.
  21. "Technology Fact Sheets: Fishing Vessel type". FAO.
  22. "Fishing Vessel type: Trawlers". FAO.
  23. "Fishing Vessel type: Outrigger trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  24. "Fishing Vessel type: Beam trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  25. "Fishing Vessel type: Otter trawlers". FAO.
  26. "Fishing Vessel type: Pair trawlers". FAO.
  27. "Fishing Vessel type: Side trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  28. "Fishing Vessel type: Stern trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  29. "Fishing Vessel type: Freezer trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  30. "Fishing Vessel type: Wet-fish trawlers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  31. "Fishing Vessel type: Seiners". FAO.
  32. 1 2 "Fishing Vessel type: American seiners". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  33. "Fishing Vessel type: Purse seiner". FAO.
  34. "Fishery equipment: Tripleroller". FAO.
  35. "Fishing Vessel type: European seiners". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  36. "Fishing Vessel type: Drum seiners". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  37. "Fishing Vessel type: Tuna Purse seiners". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  38. 1 2 3 4 "Fishing Vessel type: [Seine netters". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  39. "Fishing Vessel type: Longliners". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  40. "Fishing Vessel type: Bottom longliners". FAO.
  41. "Fishing Vessel type: Midwater longliners". FAO.
  42. "Fishing Vessel type: Freezer longliners". FAO.
  43. "Fishing Vessel type: Factory longliners". FAO.
  44. "Fishing Vessel type: Wet-fish longliners". FAO.
  45. 1 2 3 "Fishing Vessel type: Pole and line vessels". FAO.
  46. "Fishing Vessel type: Trawler". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  47. 1 2 3 "Fishing Vessel type: Jigger vessels". FAO.
  48. "Fishing Vessel type: Dredgers". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  49. "Fishing Vessel type: Gillnetters". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  50. "Fishing Vessel type: Set netters". FAO.
  51. "Fishing Vessel type: Lift netters". FAO. "Drawing". FAO.
  52. "Fishing Vessel type: Trap setters". FAO.
  53. "Fishing Vessel type: Handliners". FAO.
  54. "Fishing Vessel type: Multipurpose vessels". FAO.
  55. "Fishing Vessel type: Trawler-purse seiners". FAO.
  56. "Country Profile: Indonesia". FAO.
  57. "Country Profile: Philippines". FAO.
  58. NOAA: Sport fishing boat
  59. "The history of game fishing".
  60. "First game fishing boat arrives in Hawaii". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 13 March 1916. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.


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Related Research Articles

Fishing Activity of trying to catch fish

Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught in the wild but may also be caught from stocked bodies of water. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. “Fishing” may include catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not normally applied to catching farmed fish, or to aquatic mammals, such as whales where the term whaling is more appropriate. In addition to being caught to be eaten, fish are caught as recreational pastimes. Fishing tournaments are held, and caught fish are sometimes kept as preserved or living trophies. When bioblitzes occur, fish are typically caught, identified, and then released.


Trawling is a method of fishing that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind one or more boats. The net used for trawling is called a trawl. This principle requires netting bags which are towed through water to catch different species of fishes or sometimes targeted species. Trawls are often called towed gear or dragged gear.

Fishing trawler Commercial fishing vessel designed to operate fishing trawls

A fishing trawler is a commercial fishing vessel designed to operate fishing trawls. Trawling is a method of fishing that involves actively dragging or pulling a trawl through the water behind one or more trawlers. Trawls are fishing nets that are pulled along the bottom of the sea or in midwater at a specified depth. A trawler may also operate two or more trawl nets simultaneously.


Gillnetting is a fishing method that uses gillnets: vertical panels of netting that hang from a line with regularly spaced floaters that hold the line on the surface of the water. The floats are sometimes called "corks" and the line with corks is generally referred to as a "cork line." The line along the bottom of the panels is generally weighted. Traditionally this line has been weighted with lead and may be referred to as "lead line." A gillnet is normally set in a straight line. Gillnets can be characterized by mesh size, as well as colour and type of filament from which they are made. Fish may be caught by gillnets in three ways:

  1. Wedged – held by the mesh around the body.
  2. Gilled – held by mesh slipping behind the opercula.
  3. Tangled – held by teeth, spines, maxillaries, or other protrusions without the body penetrating the mesh.
Commercial fishing

Commercial fishing is the activity of catching fish and other seafood for commercial profit, mostly from wild fisheries. It provides a large quantity of food to many countries around the earth, but those who practice it as an industry must often pursue fish far into the ocean under adverse conditions. Large-scale commercial fishing is also known as industrial fishing. This profession has gained in popularity with the development of shows such as Deadliest Catch, Swords, and Wicked Tuna.

Seine fishing Method of fishing with a net

Seine fishing is a method of fishing that employs a fishing net, called a seine, that hangs vertically in the water with its bottom edge held down by weights and its top edge buoyed by floats. Seine nets can be deployed from the shore as a beach seine, or from a boat.

Krill fishery

The krill fishery is the commercial fishery of krill, small shrimp-like marine animals that live in the oceans world-wide. The present estimate for the biomass of Antarctic krill is 379 million tonnes. The total global harvest of krill from all fisheries amounts to 150–200,000 tonnes annually, mainly Antarctic krill and North Pacific krill.

The Scottish east coast fishery has been in existence for more than a thousand years, spanning the Viking Age right up to the present day.

Factory ship

A factory ship, also known as a fish processing vessel, is a large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing and freezing caught fish or whales. Modern factory ships are automated and enlarged versions of the earlier whalers and their use for fishing has grown dramatically. Some factory ships are equipped to serve as a mother ship.

Fishing techniques

Fishing techniques are methods for catching fish. The term may also be applied to methods for catching other aquatic animals such as molluscs and edible marine invertebrates.

Commercial fishing in Alaska

Commercial fishing is a major industry in Alaska, and has been for hundreds of years. Alaska Natives have been harvesting salmon and many other types of fish for millennia. Russians came to Alaska to harvest its abundance of sealife, as well as Japanese and other Asian cultures.

History of fishing

Fishing is a prehistoric practice dating back at least 40,000 years. Since the 16th century, fishing vessels have been able to cross oceans in pursuit of fish, and since the 19th century it has been possible to use larger vessels and in some cases process the fish on board. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping.

Fishing industry in the United States

As with other countries, the 200 nautical miles (370 km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the coast of the United States gives its fishing industry special fishing rights. It covers 11.4 million square kilometres, which is the second largest zone in the world, exceeding the land area of the United States.

Fishing industry in Russia

The coastline of the Russian Federation is the fourth longest in the world after the coastlines of Canada, Greenland, and Indonesia. The Russian fishing industry has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 7.6 million km2 including access to twelve seas in three oceans, together with the landlocked Caspian Sea and more than two million rivers.

Puretic power block

The Puretic power block is a special kind of mechanised winch used to haul nets on fishing vessels. The power block is a large powered aluminium pulley with a hard rubber-coated sheave. While many men were needed for the back-breaking work of hauling a purse seine manually, the same work could be done by fewer men with a power block.

<i>Mincarlo</i> (trawler)

Mincarlo is the last surviving sidewinder fishing trawler of the Lowestoft fishing fleet. She is also the last surviving fishing vessel built in Lowestoft, with an engine made in the town.

Traditional fishing boat

Traditionally, many different kinds of boats have been used as fishing boats to catch fish in the sea, or on a lake or river. Even today, many traditional fishing boats are still in use. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at the end of 2004, the world fishing fleet consisted of about 4 million vessels, of which 2.7 million were undecked (open) boats. While nearly all decked vessels were mechanised, only one-third of the undecked fishing boats were powered, usually with outboard engines. The remaining 1.8 million boats were traditional craft of various types, operated by sail and oars.

Lift net

Lift nets, also called lever nets, are a method of fishing using nets that are submerged to a certain depth and then lifted out of the water vertically. The nets can be flat or shaped like a bag, a rectangle, a pyramid, or a cone. Lift nets can be hand-operated, boat-operated, or shore-operated. They typically use bait or a light-source as a fish-attractor. Lift nets are also sometimes called "dip nets", though that term applies more accurately to hand nets.

NOAAS <i>Oregon II</i> (R 332)

NOAAS Oregon II is an American fisheries research vessel in commission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fleet since 1977. Prior to her NOAA career, she was delivered to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in 1967 and was transferred to NOAA in 1970, but was not placed in commission until 1977.

NOAAS <i>Pisces</i> (R 226)

NOAAS Pisces is an American fisheries and oceanographic research vessel in commission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fleet since 2009.


Further reading