A guide to fishing boats

The term “fishing vessel” refers to any type of ship, or boat that is used for the specific purpose of catching fish. This includes vessels that are used in either a river, a lake or at sea. There are numerous different types of vessels used for recreational sport fishing, artisanal and commercial fishing.

According to the most recent report published in 2004 by the FAO, there are approximately 4 million fishing vessels that are classified as commercial. Over one million of those have enclosed areas on the deck. Almost all of the decked vessels recorded are mechanized and around 40,000 of those surpass 100 tons.

Of the various types of used mainly by artisan fishermen, two thirds, or almost two million, are sail and oar powered. It is almost impossible to determine how many recreational fishing boats are in existence. This category includes boats of various sizes that aren’t specifically for fishing.

Fishing boats had very few standardized characteristics before the 1950′s. Boats designs could be very different from one boatyard or port to another. Originally, constructed of wood, the cost and problems with finding suitable wood has pushed builders to look for other materials. Most modern vessels are made of either fiberglass or steel.

History of Fishing Vessels

The earliest fishing vessels were canoes, rafts and boats that were similar to a coracle. They were fabricated with a frame covered with either tree bark, or animal skins. However, canoes are the oldest known fishing vessels. Some canoes have been uncovered at archaeological sites dating back as far as 7,000 to 9,000 years to the Neolithic Period.

In Kuwait, a sea boat has been found that was constructed using tar and reeds dating back to 7,000 years. While these earliest vessels could stay afloat and move through the water, their use was limited. They weren’t suitable for traveling great distances and were basically a source of travel for hunting or fishing.

As the war and trade industries began making advancements in more efficient boats, fishing boats became more efficient. Sail boats began to appear with sails made of fabric and animal skins which allowed the boats to travel further distances. And, opened up the opportunity for exploration.

Viking Boats With Clinker Planking

As early as 4,000 B.C., the Egyptians were constructing narrow long boats that were powered by numerous oarsmen. During the following 1,000 years, sails made of heavy fabrics and animal skins evolved into lighter sails made of cotton that resulted in increased speed. These boats were used for both travel and trade.

By the time 3,000 B.C. arrived, the Egyptians had devised ways to build a ship hull using planks of wood. In 1954, a tribute to their remarkable skills was found entombed near the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Khufu ship is a vessel that dates back to 2,500 B.C. and measures 143 feet long.

Around the same time period, Scandinavians began to make remarkable advancements. They started building boats with hull compartments that were segregated. This allowed builders to slowly increase the sizes of the boats. They soon began to use metal and iron in their designs and developed oars that had much better propulsion.

The Nydam boat is the oldest known Nordic ship and the oldest known example of clinker planking. Dating from 310 to 320 A.D. the oak ship was found in Sundeved, Denmark in the Mose bog. The Nydam was constructed of oak, measures at over 75 feet in length and over 13 feet in width. It weighed over three tons and was powered by thirty oarsmen.

The Norsemen had earned their rank of importance on the oceans by 1,000 A.D.. They were highly skilled as both builders and seamen and were constructing variations of boats with the clinker design. Norse fishing vessels were simply smaller versions of the trade boats. Long after the end of the Viking period, Scandinavian advancements were still influencing designs for fishing boats.

The Herring Buss

The Dutch made their mark in boat design during the 15th century with their herring drifter that later became the blueprint that European fishingboats were designed from. Known as the Herring Buss, the vessel was the number one choice of Dutch fishermen up until the early part of the 19th century.

The buss is a design that has an ancient history. It is believed that the very first herring buss was constructed around 1415 in Hoom and the last was built in 1841 in Vlaardingen. It measured around 65 feet in length and displaced between 60 and 100 tons.

To catch herring, busses were equipped with long drifting gill nets. Fleets of between 400 and 500 ships operated with crews that ranged from between 18 and 30 men. The crew would retrieve the nets during the night and immediately start gibbing and salting the herring and placing them in barrels.

Because the English navy considered these fishing fleets as poachers, they were often escorted to fishing areas by naval vessels. When the fishingfleets set out to sea, they were gone for weeks, or months at a time. Often, special ships would join the fleet to transfer their catch and take it back to shore so the fleet could stay at sea.

The Dogger

In the 17th century, the British dogger was developed. Dogger is a Dutch word that refers to any fishing vessel that tows a trawl. The North Sea was a favorite fishing region for the Dutch trawling boats. In fact, they fished the region so much that their favorite area quickly earned the name Dogger Bank.

Dogger ships were very slow, but they were sturdy and could withstand the turbulent waters of the North Sea. They were usually around 50 feet in length, had a maximum beam just under 15 feet, a draught that was less than 5 feet and displaced around 13 tons. These sturdy ships could carry as much as a ton of bait and 3 tons of salt.

The cargo generally included about a half ton of firewood and a half ton of food for the crew with enough room to carry 6 tons of fish. The accommodations, cooking area and storage were most likely in the aft and forward areas of the deck. The anchor provided the crew the means to fish in one spot for extended periods of time.

The Banks Dory
Schooners were typically used as dory mother ships. Dories are shallow draft boats that are fairly small generally measuring from 15 to 22 feet in length. They are lightweight with flat bottoms, high sides and sharp bows and are very easy to construct. The dory made it’s first appearance sometime during the early 1700′s in fishing towns around New England.

The French bateau was a forerunner to the dory boat with straight sides and a flat bottom. This bateau type boat was used on the Saint Lawrence River as early as 1671. At the time, the most common coastal boat was the wherry. The simplified flat bottom of the bateau was combined with the design of the wherry to create the dory.

In the 1830′s, Banks dories appeared. These were specifically designed to be transported on mother ships and were used at the Grand Banks to fish for cod. The Banks dories were an adapted version of the low freeboard bateaus of the French River. With removable thwarts and straight sides they could be stored nested inside each other to be transported to the Grand Banks.

In the 19th century, boat builders developed a more efficient design for trawling boats at Brixham, an English fishing port. These wooden sailboats quickly influenced fishing fleets around the world. Their characteristic sails became the inspiration for the song “Red Sails in the Sunset”. During the 1890′s, many skippers owned around 300 trawling vessels.

All through history, the conditions at particular regions has led to a wide variety of fishing boats. Until World War II, the Lancashire nobby was commonly used as a shrimp trawler in England. On the Isle of Man, the Manx bobby was used as a herring drifter. And, the Fifie was the most common herring drifter in Scotland.

Steam Netter

Although the smack and the bawley were often used, the east coast was filled with drifters and trawlers. It wasn’t until 1819 that herring fishingbegan in the Moray Firth. While the diesel powered drifter was first introduced in 1926, Aberdeen reached it’s fishing peak in 1937 with a fleet of 277 steam trawlers. By 1881, steam trawlers were commonly being used in Hull and Grimsby.

In 1890, there was an estimated 20,000 men fishing the North Sea. However, it wasn’t until 1897, that fishing crews began to use the steam drifter in the herring industry. The Arctic waters saw the first stern trawler in 1961 and by 1981, there were only 27 deep sea trawlers out of 130 that were still traveling out to sea. Many of them had been converted to use as safety vessels for oil rigs.

By World War I, the designs for how trawlers were powered had adapted from sails, to steam fired by coal. Many were then converted to diesel and by the end of World War II, turbines were commonly used. During both wars, a large number of fishing trawlers were commissioned by the government to sweep the seas for mines.

Fishing trawlers weren’t the only vessels commissioned during the war. Many commercial vessels were used as naval drifters that monitored and maintained anti-submarine nets. Since the end of World War II, many commercial fishing vessels have been equipped with various electronic devices such as fish finders and navigational aids. Throughout the Cold War, many trawlers were used as spy ships.

Commercial Vessels

The establishment of the 200 mile fishing limit made drastic changes in fishing patterns. Today, fishing vessels are standardized with specialized features. Because the commercial fishing industry carries such a high risk, many countries have begun to introduce regulations to govern operations and construction.

In 1959, the United Nations convened the International Maritime Organization which is responsible for developing measures aimed toward accident prevention. The organization is also responsible for establishing the standards for design, construction, the vessels equipment and how the vessel is operated and manned.

The 2004 FAO statistics show that 86 percent of the decked vessels are in Asia. Europe has 7.8 percent, North and Central America has 3.8 percent, Africa has 1.3 percent, South America accounts for 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent are in Oceania. The majority of commercial fishing vessels are less than 98 feet in length.

Classifications for commercial vessels are determined by several factors. Geographical location, architecture, the type of fishing method used on the vessel and even the species of fish that are caught can all be used to categorize commercial vessels.

Trawlers

A trawler is classified as any fishing vessel that is specifically designed to utilize trawl nets to catch a large amount of fish.

*Outrigger Trawlers - These types of trawlers tow the trawl using outriggers. Generally used for shrimp fishing they can tow either one or two otter trawls on each side. The beam trawler is commonly used in the North Sea to catch flatfish. These are medium sized vessels that are high powered reaching up to 8 knots in speed.

*Beam Trawler - This type of trawler uses sturdy outrigger booms to tow the beam trawl, one warp at each side. Beam trawlers with double rigs can tow separate trawls at each side. These vessels are used in fisheries in the North Sea for shrimp and flatfish. They are medium sized vessels and are capable of reaching speeds of 8 knots while towing gear.

To prevent the boat from capsizing if the trawl becomes snagged on the ocean floor, safety release systems can be installed in the boom stays and winch brakes can also be installed. For further safety measures, engine power is restricted to 2,000 HP for bottom trawlers.

*Otter Trawlers - This type of trawl can be towed in either midwater or along the ocean floor. They can have one parallel trawl or several that are separated horizontally with the use of otter boards.

*Pair Trawlers - Pair trawlers work in unison to tow one trawl. By monitoring their distance, they are able to Keep the trawl horizontally open. They do not use otter boards and can operate both bottom and midwater trawls.

*Side Trawlers - Like the name implies, these trawlers are set over the side of the vessel. The warps pass through blocks that are hung from the forward and aft gallows. Until the late 1960′s, side trawlers were the most common vessel at deep sea fisheries in the North Atlantic.

*Stern Trawlers - These vessels allow the deployment and retrieval of trawls from the ships stern. Larger versions are usually equipped with a ramp, while smaller and pelagic stern trawlers rarely have a ramp. These ships are designed to handle almost any weather conditions. They can be used in pairs, or alone for both bottom and midwater trawling.

*Freezer Trawlers - Today, freezer trawlers make up the majority of trawlers in operation on the high seas. They are equipped with freezing facilities to keep the fish preserved. They can be either medium sized or large and feature the same general arrangement as the side and stern trawlers.

*Wet Fish Trawlers - These trawlers keep the fish fresh in water storage areas in the hold. For this reason they aren’t suited for use at distances too far from the shore and the amount of time the vessel can remain at sea is limited.

Seiners

Seiners are a large groups of vessels that can be as little as 32 feet in length, or as large as ocean vessels. They use both seine and surrounding nets and have specialized gears used to catch demersal species.

Purse Seiner

Purse seiners are really efficient at targeting pelagic species that are aggregating just below the waters surface. The vessel circles around the shoals with the curtain of netting reaching deep into the water. At times, the seiner may utilize bow thrusters to obtain more control over the ships maneuverability.

The bottom of the trawl net is closed, or pursed beneath the shoal by a wire that runs from the boat through rings attached to the net and then back to the boat. Often, electronic devices such as sonar, echo-sounders and track plotters are used to find and track the schools of fish. They also aid in determining the size and movements of the school.

Visual support is often enhanced with crows nests that are constructed on the masts. Larger vessels are often equipped with observation towers and landing decks for helicopters or spotter planes that are used to locate fish schools. There are four main types of seiners, tuna seiners, Drum seiners, European seiners and American seiners.

*Tuna seiners are very large vessels usually spanning almost 150 feet in length. They have the capabilities of handling large, heavy seines to catch tuna. The vessels arrangement is basically the same as the American seiner which has the accommodations and the bridge placed forward. The top of the
mast features a crows nest, often referred to as a tuna tower.

The power block is carried by a heavy boom that is fitted onto the mast. Often, tuna seiners have a helicopter onboard to search for schools of tuna. There are 3 drum purse seine winches, several other winches and a power block on the deck that can handle the heavy net and boom. And, there is usually a skiff onboard.

*Drum seiners have the same basic design as the American seiners, but the drum is on the stern and it’s used in place of a power block. These seiners are mainly used throughout Canada and the United States.

*European seiners have accommodations and bridges located toward the after part of the ship and the working deck is midship. These seiners are commonly used in European countries. The trawl net is stowed inside a net bin that is located at the stern and it is set over top of the stern from the same location. The winch is usually located at the forward section.

*American seiners have accommodations and bridges that are at the forward section of the vessel while the working deck is aft. They are commonly used on all North American coasts and in other regions of Oceania. The net is stowed at the ships stern and is set over top of the stern. The ships power block is generally attached to a boom that is on a mast that is located behind the ships superstructure. American purse seiners utilize triple rollers, a line winch that is situated midship close to the hauling station and near the vessels side where the trawls rings are taken onboard.

Seine Netters

There are four main types of seine netters, the Scottish seiners and Anchor seiners are common to northern Europe and the Asian seiners are of course, common to Asia.

*Anchor seiners resemble side trawlers with the accommodations and wheelhouse located at the aft and the working deck located midship. The seine net is shot and stored from the stern and they may nor may not carry a power block. The winch and the coiler are mounted midship transversely.

*Scottish seiners are basically just like the anchor seiners. However, they do have one main difference, unlike the anchor seiner that has the winch and coiler mounted midship, they are mounted at the forward section on a Scottish seiner.

*Asian seiners usually have a working deck aft and the wheelhouse is forward similar to a stern trawler. In areas where fishing is very labor intensive, they are commonly un-decked and may even be powered with outboard motors or sails.

Line Vessels

*Longliner vessels utilize long heavy lines that are equipped with several hundred, or thousands of hooks that are baited. These hooks are suspended from main lines by a series of branch lines that are called snoods. Longlining can be hand operated from virtually any size boat. The total number of lines and hooks that each vessel uses depends on the size of the ship, how many crew are onboard and the level of mechanization.

Large longliners are often designed for a specific fish species such as tuna. On larger longliners, the bridge is generally located aft and the gear is either hauled at the bow, or on the side with hydraulic or
mechanical line haulers. The lines are placed over the stern and semi-automatic, or automatic systems are utilized to bait the hooks and shoot the lines.

These systems consist of line haulers, rail rollers, de-hookers, hook separators, hook cleaners and drums or storage racks. To prevent sea birds from accidentally getting caught, a outboard setting funnel guides the lines from their position on the stern to 3 to 6 feet below the waters surface. Smaller longliners operate the gear by hand. The lines are stored in either tubs or baskets, sometimes using a line drum that is hand cranked.

*Midwater longliners are generally medium sized ships. They are operated around the world and are specifically constructed to catch large pelagics. The catch is hauled up through a gate located in the rail by a line hauler that is usually at the forward starboard. A chute and hook baiting table are positioned at the stern were the lines are set.

These boats require the speed that is needed to reach distant locations and the endurance to withstand long periods of fishing. They also have to be equipped with adequate freezer space and storage for gear and needed accessories. The mechanisms that are used for hauling and shooting the lines have to be quick.

*Freezer longliners are equipped with facilities to freeze the fish. The containers are well insulated and properly refrigerated. They range in size from medium to large and have the same basic features of other longliners. The majority of longliners that operate on the seas today are freezer longliners.

*Factory longliners are usually equipped with a workable processing plant. They have equipment to gut and fillet the fish and can process fish oil and meal. They are sometimes even equipped with a canning plant. They feature a large buffer capacity which allows fish to be kept in refrigerated tanks. They are very large vessels with the same basic characteristics of most other large sized longliners.

*Wet-fish longliners provide storage to keep the fish in a fresh, wet condition in the hold. The fish can either be stored in the hold in ice, or in boxes where the fish are covered with ice. These vessels have to operate fairly close to land because their time at sea is limited.

*Pole and line vessels are generally used to catch skipjack and tuna. The fishermen use poles and lines and catch fish standing on a special platform or beside the railing. Preferably, the hooks are baited with fresh bait. When a fish is caught, it is swung on board with the help of several men. If the fish is really large, an automated mechanism may be used to swing the fish on board.

The hooks are barbless and usually the fishes movement is enough to release the fish from the hook once it lands on the deck. The boat has a series of spray systems to attract fish and several places to store live bait. These vessels can range from between 50 feet 150 feet in length. The larger vessels have both an American style deck and a Japanese deck.

*The American style deck features platforms that are arranged around the stern and over the side abaft at midship. Vessels made in this style keeps moving ahead while the fish are caught.

*Vessels with Japanese style decks simply drift while the fish are being caught. The fishermen stand at a rail that is located in the forepart of the boat to catch fish.

*Trollers can have only one trolling line, or several. The fish are caught by towing the lines astern. A trolling line is basically a fishing line that features hooks that are baited with either live or artificial bait. Numerous lines can be towed simultaneously with the use of an outrigger to keep the lines separated. Lines are hauled on board with small winches or by hand.

Often, a piece of rubber is attached to each of the trolling lines to serve as a shock absorber. Depending on the species, the line is towed at speeds from 2.3 knots to 7 knots. They range through a variety of sizes with some as large as 100 foot long. They are very efficient and economical whenfishing for pelagic fish such as mackerel and tuna.

Jiggers

There are two different types of jiggers, cod jiggers and specialized squid jiggers. Squid jiggers are more common in southern regions, while cod jiggers are more common in northern regions.

*Squid jiggers are designed with drum jigger winches all along the vessels rails. Lights as strong as 5,000 watts attract the squid which are then transferred to an onboard processing plant by way of a chute. They are used as midwater trawlers during the day and jiggers at night.

*Cod jiggers are only equipped with single jigger machines. Fish is attracted by either artificial bait, or the jigging motion.

Other Vessels

Dredgers

Dredgers are used for gathering mollusks off the ocean floor. These vessels don’t have a standard deck arrangement. If needed, the vessel can be equipped with winches and derricks that can lower or lift the dredge. There are three basic types:

A. The dredge is often pulled along the ocean floor scooping up shellfish as it moves. They can be towed similar to a beam trawler. Large dredges can operate three or more dredges at each side.

B. Heavy mechanical units are operated by means of a special gallows located on the vessels bow.

C. The dredger utilizes a hydraulic dredge that has a high powered water pump to create jets of water that lift the mollusks off the bottom.

Gillnetters

*Gillnets can be used from canoes or other open boats inshore or on inland waters. In coastal waters, they are generally used by smaller decked vessels and as an alternative fishing method for trawlers. Medium sized fishing vessels that have drifting nets are referred to as simply drifters. On small boats, the setting and hauling is done by hand, larger boats utilize mechanical or hydraulic equipment to set and haul the nets.

*Set netter can also use gillnets, but during operation the nets aren’t attached to the boat. Vessel sizes range from small open boats, to large specialized vessels. Some larger vessels have the capability to freeze the fish, but most keep the fish fresh by placing it in containers that are chilled with ice.

*Lift netters have the equipment to operate lift nets. The nets are held on the side of the vessel and lowered or raised by an outrigger. They can be small open boats, or large vessels capable of sailing the open ocean. Smaller boats are all hand operated, while larger boats might utilize derricks or winches.

Lobster Boats

*Trap setters are used to set traps, or pots for catching fish, lobsters, crabs, crayfish and various other species. They can be small open boats, or large sea going vessels that are capable of traveling to the edge of the continental shelf. While deck vessels are often equipped with electronic devices such as echo-sounders, fish location is generally a matter of knowledge of the area.

*Handliners are small and medium sized undecked boats that don’t have special gear handling or winches. Some are equipped with hydraulic reels, but most are hand operated. Handliners are used all around the world, in both shallow and deep waters.

*Multi-purpose vessels are designed to serve more than one purpose. They can use a variety of gear without the need for any major modifications. Detection equipment to find the fish is installed onboard and can be changed depending on which gear is used.

*Trawler/Purse seiners feature specially designed equipment and deck arrangements that can be used for several methods. The equipment is specifically arranged to allow changing from one type to another in the least amount of time. Typical electronic equipment include a echo-sounder
and sonar.

*Research vessels for fisheries require versatile platforms that are able to tow a variety of nets to collect samples from a range of different depths. They are designed very similar to large ships, but the majority of the space is utilized for equipment and laboratories.

Artisan Vessels

The term “Artisan fishing” refers to small scale subsistence and commercial fishing. It is particularly used in reference to island and coastal ethnic groups that use traditional, or customary boats and fishing techniques. The vessels are generally small, open boats without any type of electronic or mechanical gear.

Today, there are still a large number of artisan vessels in use, particularly in many of the developing countries that have extensive productive coastlines. Both Indonesia and the Philippines have reported around 7000,000 artisan vessels. Of that number, approximately half aren’t equipped with motors.

Recreational Vessels

Recreational fishing is practiced all around the world for sport and pleasure. Almost anything that floats can be classified as a recreational boat. These boats can be literally any size, from a raft to the new high tech gaming vessels. Larger recreational boats are usually designed with open cockpits for convenience.

Shortly after the introduction of motorized boats, big game fishing became a widely popular sport for avid fishermen. A marine biologist, Charles Frederick Holder is credited with establishing the sport in 1898. Many of these vessels are quite luxurious and are equipped with all the gear a fisherman needs.

*Kayaks have became increasingly popular for fishing in recent years. They have a long hAbout Fishing Boats

The term “fishing vessel” refers to any type of ship, or boat that is used for the specific purpose of catching fish. This includes vessels that are used in either a river, a lake or at sea. There are numerous different types of vessels used for recreational sport fishing, artisanal and commercial fishing.

According to the most recent report published in 2004 by the FAO, there are approximately 4 million fishing vessels that are classified as commercial. Over one million of those have enclosed areas on the deck. Almost all of the decked vessels recorded are mechanized and around 40,000 of those surpass 100 tons.

Of the various types of used mainly by artisan fishermen, two thirds, or almost two million, are sail and oar powered. It is almost impossible to determine how many recreational fishing boats are in existence. This category includes boats of various sizes that aren’t specifically for fishing.

Fishing boats had very few standardized characteristics before the 1950′s. Boats designs could be very different from one boatyard or port to another. Originally, constructed of wood, the cost and problems with finding suitable wood has pushed builders to look for other materials. Most modern vessels are made of either fiberglass or steel.

History of Fishing Vessels

The earliest fishing vessels were canoes, rafts and boats that were similar to a coracle. They were fabricated with a frame covered with either tree bark, or animal skins. However, canoes are the oldest known fishing vessels. Some canoes have been uncovered at archaeological sites dating back as far as 7,000 to 9,000 years to the Neolithic Period.

In Kuwait, a sea boat has been found that was constructed using tar and reeds dating back to 7,000 years. While these earliest vessels could stay afloat and move through the water, their use was limited. They weren’t suitable for traveling great distances and were basically a source of travel for hunting or fishing.

As the war and trade industries began making advancements in more efficient boats, fishing boats became more efficient. Sail boats began to appear with sails made of fabric and animal skins which allowed the boats to travel further distances. And, opened up the opportunity for exploration.

Viking Boats With Clinker Planking

As early as 4,000 B.C., the Egyptians were constructing narrow long boats that were powered by numerous oarsmen. During the following 1,000 years, sails made of heavy fabrics and animal skins evolved into lighter sails made of cotton that resulted in increased speed. These boats were used for both travel and trade.

By the time 3,000 B.C. arrived, the Egyptians had devised ways to build a ship hull using planks of wood. In 1954, a tribute to their remarkable skills was found entombed near the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Khufu ship is a vessel that dates back to 2,500 B.C. and measures 143 feet long.

Around the same time period, Scandinavians began to make remarkable advancements. They started building boats with hull compartments that were segregated. This allowed builders to slowly increase the sizes of the boats. They soon began to use metal and iron in their designs and developed oars that had much better propulsion.

The Nydam boat is the oldest known Nordic ship and the oldest known example of clinker planking. Dating from 310 to 320 A.D. the oak ship was found in Sundeved, Denmark in the Mose bog. The Nydam was constructed of oak, measures at over 75 feet in length and over 13 feet in width. It weighed over three tons and was powered by thirty oarsmen.

The Norsemen had earned their rank of importance on the oceans by 1,000 A.D.. They were highly skilled as both builders and seamen and were constructing variations of boats with the clinker design. Norse fishing vessels were simply smaller versions of the trade boats. Long after the end of the Viking period, Scandinavian advancements were still influencing designs for fishing boats.

The Herring Buss

The Dutch made their mark in boat design during the 15th century with their herring drifter that later became the blueprint that European fishingboats were designed from. Known as the Herring Buss, the vessel was the number one choice of Dutch fishermen up until the early part of the 19th century.

The buss is a design that has an ancient history. It is believed that the very first herring buss was constructed around 1415 in Hoom and the last was built in 1841 in Vlaardingen. It measured around 65 feet in length and displaced between 60 and 100 tons.

To catch herring, busses were equipped with long drifting gill nets. Fleets of between 400 and 500 ships operated with crews that ranged from between 18 and 30 men. The crew would retrieve the nets during the night and immediately start gibbing and salting the herring and placing them in barrels.

Because the English navy considered these fishing fleets as poachers, they were often escorted to fishing areas by naval vessels. When the fishingfleets set out to sea, they were gone for weeks, or months at a time. Often, special ships would join the fleet to transfer their catch and take it back to shore so the fleet could stay at sea.

The Dogger

In the 17th century, the British dogger was developed. Dogger is a Dutch word that refers to any fishing vessel that tows a trawl. The North Sea was a favorite fishing region for the Dutch trawling boats. In fact, they fished the region so much that their favorite area quickly earned the name Dogger Bank.

Dogger ships were very slow, but they were sturdy and could withstand the turbulent waters of the North Sea. They were usually around 50 feet in length, had a maximum beam just under 15 feet, a draught that was less than 5 feet and displaced around 13 tons. These sturdy ships could carry as much as a ton of bait and 3 tons of salt.

The cargo generally included about a half ton of firewood and a half ton of food for the crew with enough room to carry 6 tons of fish. The accommodations, cooking area and storage were most likely in the aft and forward areas of the deck. The anchor provided the crew the means to fish in one spot for extended periods of time.

The Banks Dory
Schooners were typically used as dory mother ships. Dories are shallow draft boats that are fairly small generally measuring from 15 to 22 feet in length. They are lightweight with flat bottoms, high sides and sharp bows and are very easy to construct. The dory made it’s first appearance sometime during the early 1700′s in fishing towns around New England.

The French bateau was a forerunner to the dory boat with straight sides and a flat bottom. This bateau type boat was used on the Saint Lawrence River as early as 1671. At the time, the most common coastal boat was the wherry. The simplified flat bottom of the bateau was combined with the design of the wherry to create the dory.

In the 1830′s, Banks dories appeared. These were specifically designed to be transported on mother ships and were used at the Grand Banks to fish for cod. The Banks dories were an adapted version of the low freeboard bateaus of the French River. With removable thwarts and straight sides they could be stored nested inside each other to be transported to the Grand Banks.

In the 19th century, boat builders developed a more efficient design for trawling boats at Brixham, an English fishing port. These wooden sailboats quickly influenced fishing fleets around the world. Their characteristic sails became the inspiration for the song “Red Sails in the Sunset”. During the 1890′s, many skippers owned around 300 trawling vessels.

All through history, the conditions at particular regions has led to a wide variety of fishing boats. Until World War II, the Lancashire nobby was commonly used as a shrimp trawler in England. On the Isle of Man, the Manx bobby was used as a herring drifter. And, the Fifie was the most common herring drifter in Scotland.

Steam Netter

Although the smack and the bawley were often used, the east coast was filled with drifters and trawlers. It wasn’t until 1819 that herring fishingbegan in the Moray Firth. While the diesel powered drifter was first introduced in 1926, Aberdeen reached it’s fishing peak in 1937 with a fleet of 277 steam trawlers. By 1881, steam trawlers were commonly being used in Hull and Grimsby.

In 1890, there was an estimated 20,000 men fishing the North Sea. However, it wasn’t until 1897, that fishing crews began to use the steam drifter in the herring industry. The Arctic waters saw the first stern trawler in 1961 and by 1981, there were only 27 deep sea trawlers out of 130 that were still traveling out to sea. Many of them had been converted to use as safety vessels for oil rigs.

By World War I, the designs for how trawlers were powered had adapted from sails, to steam fired by coal. Many were then converted to diesel and by the end of World War II, turbines were commonly used. During both wars, a large number of fishing trawlers were commissioned by the government to sweep the seas for mines.

Fishing trawlers weren’t the only vessels commissioned during the war. Many commercial vessels were used as naval drifters that monitored and maintained anti-submarine nets. Since the end of World War II, many commercial fishing vessels have been equipped with various electronic devices such as fish finders and navigational aids. Throughout the Cold War, many trawlers were used as spy ships.

Commercial Vessels

The establishment of the 200 mile fishing limit made drastic changes in fishing patterns. Today, fishing vessels are standardized with specialized features. Because the commercial fishing industry carries such a high risk, many countries have begun to introduce regulations to govern operations and construction.

In 1959, the United Nations convened the International Maritime Organization which is responsible for developing measures aimed toward accident prevention. The organization is also responsible for establishing the standards for design, construction, the vessels equipment and how the vessel is operated and manned.

The 2004 FAO statistics show that 86 percent of the decked vessels are in Asia. Europe has 7.8 percent, North and Central America has 3.8 percent, Africa has 1.3 percent, South America accounts for 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent are in Oceania. The majority of commercial fishing vessels are less than 98 feet in length.

Classifications for commercial vessels are determined by several factors. Geographical location, architecture, the type of fishing method used on the vessel and even the species of fish that are caught can all be used to categorize commercial vessels.

Trawlers

A trawler is classified as any fishing vessel that is specifically designed to utilize trawl nets to catch a large amount of fish.

*Outrigger Trawlers - These types of trawlers tow the trawl using outriggers. Generally used for shrimp fishing they can tow either one or two otter trawls on each side. The beam trawler is commonly used in the North Sea to catch flatfish. These are medium sized vessels that are high powered reaching up to 8 knots in speed.

*Beam Trawler - This type of trawler uses sturdy outrigger booms to tow the beam trawl, one warp at each side. Beam trawlers with double rigs can tow separate trawls at each side. These vessels are used in fisheries in the North Sea for shrimp and flatfish. They are medium sized vessels and are capable of reaching speeds of 8 knots while towing gear.

To prevent the boat from capsizing if the trawl becomes snagged on the ocean floor, safety release systems can be installed in the boom stays and winch brakes can also be installed. For further safety measures, engine power is restricted to 2,000 HP for bottom trawlers.

*Otter Trawlers - This type of trawl can be towed in either midwater or along the ocean floor. They can have one parallel trawl or several that are separated horizontally with the use of otter boards.

*Pair Trawlers - Pair trawlers work in unison to tow one trawl. By monitoring their distance, they are able to Keep the trawl horizontally open. They do not use otter boards and can operate both bottom and midwater trawls.

*Side Trawlers - Like the name implies, these trawlers are set over the side of the vessel. The warps pass through blocks that are hung from the forward and aft gallows. Until the late 1960′s, side trawlers were the most common vessel at deep sea fisheries in the North Atlantic.

*Stern Trawlers - These vessels allow the deployment and retrieval of trawls from the ships stern. Larger versions are usually equipped with a ramp, while smaller and pelagic stern trawlers rarely have a ramp. These ships are designed to handle almost any weather conditions. They can be used in pairs, or alone for both bottom and midwater trawling.

*Freezer Trawlers - Today, freezer trawlers make up the majority of trawlers in operation on the high seas. They are equipped with freezing facilities to keep the fish preserved. They can be either medium sized or large and feature the same general arrangement as the side and stern trawlers.

*Wet Fish Trawlers - These trawlers keep the fish fresh in water storage areas in the hold. For this reason they aren’t suited for use at distances too far from the shore and the amount of time the vessel can remain at sea is limited.

Seiners

Seiners are a large groups of vessels that can be as little as 32 feet in length, or as large as ocean vessels. They use both seine and surrounding nets and have specialized gears used to catch demersal species.

Purse Seiner

Purse seiners are really efficient at targeting pelagic species that are aggregating just below the waters surface. The vessel circles around the shoals with the curtain of netting reaching deep into the water. At times, the seiner may utilize bow thrusters to obtain more control over the ships maneuverability.

The bottom of the trawl net is closed, or pursed beneath the shoal by a wire that runs from the boat through rings attached to the net and then back to the boat. Often, electronic devices such as sonar, echo-sounders and track plotters are used to find and track the schools of fish. They also aid in determining the size and movements of the school.

Visual support is often enhanced with crows nests that are constructed on the masts. Larger vessels are often equipped with observation towers and landing decks for helicopters or spotter planes that are used to locate fish schools. There are four main types of seiners, tuna seiners, Drum seiners, European seiners and American seiners.

*Tuna seiners are very large vessels usually spanning almost 150 feet in length. They have the capabilities of handling large, heavy seines to catch tuna. The vessels arrangement is basically the same as the American seiner which has the accommodations and the bridge placed forward. The top of the
mast features a crows nest, often referred to as a tuna tower.

The power block is carried by a heavy boom that is fitted onto the mast. Often, tuna seiners have a helicopter onboard to search for schools of tuna. There are 3 drum purse seine winches, several other winches and a power block on the deck that can handle the heavy net and boom. And, there is usually a skiff onboard.

*Drum seiners have the same basic design as the American seiners, but the drum is on the stern and it’s used in place of a power block. These seiners are mainly used throughout Canada and the United States.

*European seiners have accommodations and bridges located toward the after part of the ship and the working deck is midship. These seiners are commonly used in European countries. The trawl net is stowed inside a net bin that is located at the stern and it is set over top of the stern from the same location. The winch is usually located at the forward section.

*American seiners have accommodations and bridges that are at the forward section of the vessel while the working deck is aft. They are commonly used on all North American coasts and in other regions of Oceania. The net is stowed at the ships stern and is set over top of the stern. The ships power block is generally attached to a boom that is on a mast that is located behind the ships superstructure. American purse seiners utilize triple rollers, a line winch that is situated midship close to the hauling station and near the vessels side where the trawls rings are taken onboard.

Seine Netters

There are four main types of seine netters, the Scottish seiners and Anchor seiners are common to northern Europe and the Asian seiners are of course, common to Asia.

*Anchor seiners resemble side trawlers with the accommodations and wheelhouse located at the aft and the working deck located midship. The seine net is shot and stored from the stern and they may nor may not carry a power block. The winch and the coiler are mounted midship transversely.

*Scottish seiners are basically just like the anchor seiners. However, they do have one main difference, unlike the anchor seiner that has the winch and coiler mounted midship, they are mounted at the forward section on a Scottish seiner.

*Asian seiners usually have a working deck aft and the wheelhouse is forward similar to a stern trawler. In areas where fishing is very labor intensive, they are commonly un-decked and may even be powered with outboard motors or sails.

Line Vessels

*Longliner vessels utilize long heavy lines that are equipped with several hundred, or thousands of hooks that are baited. These hooks are suspended from main lines by a series of branch lines that are called snoods. Longlining can be hand operated from virtually any size boat. The total number of lines and hooks that each vessel uses depends on the size of the ship, how many crew are onboard and the level of mechanization.

Large longliners are often designed for a specific fish species such as tuna. On larger longliners, the bridge is generally located aft and the gear is either hauled at the bow, or on the side with hydraulic or
mechanical line haulers. The lines are placed over the stern and semi-automatic, or automatic systems are utilized to bait the hooks and shoot the lines.

These systems consist of line haulers, rail rollers, de-hookers, hook separators, hook cleaners and drums or storage racks. To prevent sea birds from accidentally getting caught, a outboard setting funnel guides the lines from their position on the stern to 3 to 6 feet below the waters surface. Smaller longliners operate the gear by hand. The lines are stored in either tubs or baskets, sometimes using a line drum that is hand cranked.

*Midwater longliners are generally medium sized ships. They are operated around the world and are specifically constructed to catch large pelagics. The catch is hauled up through a gate located in the rail by a line hauler that is usually at the forward starboard. A chute and hook baiting table are positioned at the stern were the lines are set.

These boats require the speed that is needed to reach distant locations and the endurance to withstand long periods of fishing. They also have to be equipped with adequate freezer space and storage for gear and needed accessories. The mechanisms that are used for hauling and shooting the lines have to be quick.

*Freezer longliners are equipped with facilities to freeze the fish. The containers are well insulated and properly refrigerated. They range in size from medium to large and have the same basic features of other longliners. The majority of longliners that operate on the seas today are freezer longliners.

*Factory longliners are usually equipped with a workable processing plant. They have equipment to gut and fillet the fish and can process fish oil and meal. They are sometimes even equipped with a canning plant. They feature a large buffer capacity which allows fish to be kept in refrigerated tanks. They are very large vessels with the same basic characteristics of most other large sized longliners.

*Wet-fish longliners provide storage to keep the fish in a fresh, wet condition in the hold. The fish can either be stored in the hold in ice, or in boxes where the fish are covered with ice. These vessels have to operate fairly close to land because their time at sea is limited.

*Pole and line vessels are generally used to catch skipjack and tuna. The fishermen use poles and lines and catch fish standing on a special platform or beside the railing. Preferably, the hooks are baited with fresh bait. When a fish is caught, it is swung on board with the help of several men. If the fish is really large, an automated mechanism may be used to swing the fish on board.

The hooks are barbless and usually the fishes movement is enough to release the fish from the hook once it lands on the deck. The boat has a series of spray systems to attract fish and several places to store live bait. These vessels can range from between 50 feet 150 feet in length. The larger vessels have both an American style deck and a Japanese deck.

*The American style deck features platforms that are arranged around the stern and over the side abaft at midship. Vessels made in this style keeps moving ahead while the fish are caught.

*Vessels with Japanese style decks simply drift while the fish are being caught. The fishermen stand at a rail that is located in the forepart of the boat to catch fish.

*Trollers can have only one trolling line, or several. The fish are caught by towing the lines astern. A trolling line is basically a fishing line that features hooks that are baited with either live or artificial bait. Numerous lines can be towed simultaneously with the use of an outrigger to keep the lines separated. Lines are hauled on board with small winches or by hand.

Often, a piece of rubber is attached to each of the trolling lines to serve as a shock absorber. Depending on the species, the line is towed at speeds from 2.3 knots to 7 knots. They range through a variety of sizes with some as large as 100 foot long. They are very efficient and economical whenfishing for pelagic fish such as mackerel and tuna.

Jiggers

There are two different types of jiggers, cod jiggers and specialized squid jiggers. Squid jiggers are more common in southern regions, while cod jiggers are more common in northern regions.

*Squid jiggers are designed with drum jigger winches all along the vessels rails. Lights as strong as 5,000 watts attract the squid which are then transferred to an onboard processing plant by way of a chute. They are used as midwater trawlers during the day and jiggers at night.

*Cod jiggers are only equipped with single jigger machines. Fish is attracted by either artificial bait, or the jigging motion.

Other Vessels

Dredgers

Dredgers are used for gathering mollusks off the ocean floor. These vessels don’t have a standard deck arrangement. If needed, the vessel can be equipped with winches and derricks that can lower or lift the dredge. There are three basic types:

A. The dredge is often pulled along the ocean floor scooping up shellfish as it moves. They can be towed similar to a beam trawler. Large dredges can operate three or more dredges at each side.

B. Heavy mechanical units are operated by means of a special gallows located on the vessels bow.

C. The dredger utilizes a hydraulic dredge that has a high powered water pump to create jets of water that lift the mollusks off the bottom.

Gillnetters

*Gillnets can be used from canoes or other open boats inshore or on inland waters. In coastal waters, they are generally used by smaller decked vessels and as an alternative fishing method for trawlers. Medium sized fishing vessels that have drifting nets are referred to as simply drifters. On small boats, the setting and hauling is done by hand, larger boats utilize mechanical or hydraulic equipment to set and haul the nets.

*Set netter can also use gillnets, but during operation the nets aren’t attached to the boat. Vessel sizes range from small open boats, to large specialized vessels. Some larger vessels have the capability to freeze the fish, but most keep the fish fresh by placing it in containers that are chilled with ice.

*Lift netters have the equipment to operate lift nets. The nets are held on the side of the vessel and lowered or raised by an outrigger. They can be small open boats, or large vessels capable of sailing the open ocean. Smaller boats are all hand operated, while larger boats might utilize derricks or winches.

Lobster Boats

*Trap setters are used to set traps, or pots for catching fish, lobsters, crabs, crayfish and various other species. They can be small open boats, or large sea going vessels that are capable of traveling to the edge of the continental shelf. While deck vessels are often equipped with electronic devices such as echo-sounders, fish location is generally a matter of knowledge of the area.

*Handliners are small and medium sized undecked boats that don’t have special gear handling or winches. Some are equipped with hydraulic reels, but most are hand operated. Handliners are used all around the world, in both shallow and deep waters.

*Multi-purpose vessels are designed to serve more than one purpose. They can use a variety of gear without the need for any major modifications. Detection equipment to find the fish is installed onboard and can be changed depending on which gear is used.

*Trawler/Purse seiners feature specially designed equipment and deck arrangements that can be used for several methods. The equipment is specifically arranged to allow changing from one type to another in the least amount of time. Typical electronic equipment include a echo-sounder
and sonar.

*Research vessels for fisheries require versatile platforms that are able to tow a variety of nets to collect samples from a range of different depths. They are designed very similar to large ships, but the majority of the space is utilized for equipment and laboratories.

Artisan Vessels

The term “Artisan fishing” refers to small scale subsistence and commercial fishing. It is particularly used in reference to island and coastal ethnic groups that use traditional, or customary boats and fishing techniques. The vessels are generally small, open boats without any type of electronic or mechanical gear.

Today, there are still a large number of artisan vessels in use, particularly in many of the developing countries that have extensive productive coastlines. Both Indonesia and the Philippines have reported around 7000,000 artisan vessels. Of that number, approximately half aren’t equipped with motors.

Recreational Vessels

Recreational fishing is practiced all around the world for sport and pleasure. Almost anything that floats can be classified as a recreational boat. These boats can be literally any size, from a raft to the new high tech gaming vessels. Larger recreational boats are usually designed with open cockpits for convenience.

Shortly after the introduction of motorized boats, big game fishing became a widely popular sport for avid fishermen. A marine biologist, Charles Frederick Holder is credited with establishing the sport in 1898. Many of these vessels are quite luxurious and are equipped with all the gear a fisherman needs.

*Kayaks have became increasingly popular for fishing in recent years. They have a long history as a means of transportation for fishing.

*Pontoon boats are ideal for accessing smaller lakes and rivers where larger boats wouldn’t be able to travel. They generally range from between 8 and 12 feet in length and can accommodate several fishermen. Being inflatable, they are easy to transport and can be assembled rather quickly.

*Bass boats are constructed of fiberglass or aluminum and are used in rivers and lakes all around the United States. They are equipped with swivel chairs, a recirculating water tank for fish storage and are commonly fitted with both an outboard motor and a small trolling motor.

*Charter boats are reserved for paying clients and are usually privately owned. Sizes vary depending on the geographical region and the species of the fish that is being targeted.

*Freshwater boats make up about one third of the total fishing boats registered in the United States.

*Saltwater fishing vessels are specifically designed for certain types of fish and can vary greatly in size. They are powered by inboard diesel motors or outboard motors. In warmer regions, these boats are usually open, while in colder climates they usually have an enclosed cabin.
history as a means of transportation for fishing.

*Pontoon boats are ideal for accessing smaller lakes and rivers where larger boats wouldn’t be able to travel. They generally range from between 8 and 12 feet in length and can accommodate several fishermen. Being inflatable, they are easy to transport and can be assembled rather quickly.

*Bass boats are constructed of fiberglass or aluminum and are used in rivers and lakes all around the United States. They are equipped with swivel chairs, a recirculating water tank for fish storage and are commonly fitted with both an outboard motor and a small trolling motor.

*Charter boats are reserved for paying clients and are usually privately owned. Sizes vary depending on the geographical region and the species of the fish that is being targeted.

*Freshwater boats make up about one third of the total fishing boats registered in the United States.

*Saltwater fishing vessels are specifically designed for certain types of fish and can vary greatly in size. They are powered by inboard diesel motors or outboard motors. In warmer regions, these boats are usually open, while in colder climates they usually have an enclosed cabin.