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All Fisheries Administrators and their staff have a need to be able to identify fishing apparatus and have knowledge as to how it entraps fish. This annex provides basic knowledge of the various fishing gear types in use in the world today.

Fisheries Officers come upon fishing gear during their patrols. In the case of gear which is set illegally, it is advantageous to be able to identify the owner of the fishing gear for further discussions. In the case of legal gear, it may also be necessary to identify the owner. Many fisheries laws now require fishers to mark their fishing gear with tags in a prominent part of the apparatus where it is easily seen. The markings are often the same as required for vessels, the call sign or name of the owner.

This annex draws heavily from FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, Definition and classification of fishing gear categories, 222 Rev.1. The original publication provides greater detail in English, French and Spanish. The division of the diagrams of the fishing gear follows the same sequence as the original publication.


These nets surround the fish on the sides and extend underneath so the fish cannot escape. These include: purse seines that can be pulled together at the bottom; lampara net that does have a scoop like a spoon as seen in the following diagram; the ring net is more like a purse seine with bridles to help pull in the net; beach seine and boat seines..

Purse Seine


Beach Seine

Boat Seine


These are towed nets consisting of a cone-shaped body, closed by a bag or codend and extended at the opening by wings. They can be towed by one or two vessels and different nets are used for bottom and mid-water trawling. In certain cases they can be rigged to sit off the side of the vessel (outrigger), or multi-rigged with more than one net being towed at the same time. These include: bottom trawls that operate at or near the bottom for demersal fish, or with a higher opening for semi-demersal and pelagic species; beam trawls; bottom pair trawls towed by two vessels; midwater trawls for pelagic fish; midwater pair trawls for two vessels; and twin otter trawls.

Bottom Trawls

Beam Trawls

Bottom Pair Trawls

Midwater Trawls

Twin Otter Trawls


These are gear dragged along the bottom, usually to collect molluscs such as mussels, oysters, scallops and clams. The catch is held in a sort of bag or sieve which allows water, sand and mud to run out.



These nets are set in such a manner as to allow the fisher to attract fish with lights or bait. When they are over the net it is raised or hauled in to capture the fish. Lift nets come in various shapes and sizes. The two examples shown are for boats and smaller shore mounted apparatus.

Boat Lift Nets

Shallow Lift Nets


This gear includes cast nets and other falling gear operated from boats or from shore.

Cast Nets

Other Falling Gear


These nets are used to enmesh, or catch the fish by the gills, entangling them in the net itself. Different types of nets can be used together in one gear and they may be set in long lines, called "fleets". These nets can be set at any depth and can drift or remain fixed to the sea bottom. These include: set gillnets; drifting gillnets; encircling nets to trap fish in the circle of net; fixed gillnets (on stakes); trammel nets, bottom nets made of three walls of net with the two outer walls larger mesh than the inner wall; and combined gillnet-trammel nets to catch both demersal and semi-demersal/pelagic fish - the bottom being trammel with a regular gillnet on top;

Drifting Gillnets

Encircling Nets

Fixed Gillnets

Trammel Nets

Combined Trammel/Gillnet


These include: stationery uncovered pound nets to herd the fish into the final "room"; pots with or without bait; fyke nets; stow nets for rivers and use in strong currents; and various barrier or fence nets, wiers and fish corrals; and aerial traps to trap jumping fish onto the "veranda";

Stationary Pound Nets


Fyke Nets

Barrier/Fence/Wiers & Corrals

Aerial Nets


Some fish are attracted to natural or artificial bait on a hook. There are many arrangements which can be constructed to catch fish in this manner with either single hooks or in a series. Some fish are attracted to hooks and then "jigged" when the hooks are hauled up and down in jerky movements. This is the principle behind the attraction of squid to the jigs on which they are caught. Hooks and lines include: handlines and poles; set longlines; drifting longlines; and trolling lines.

Handlines and Poles

Set Longlines

Drift Longlines

Trolling Lines


This section covers several gear types for which there are no diagrams. These include harpoons, spears, arrows, prongs, tongs, clamps and various scoop nets, hand implements used for fishing, poisons, explosives and electrical fishing. The two last gears are the pumper and mechanical dredges. These are methods of extracting fish and molluscs from the sea.

Mechanical Dredge


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