FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger

ISSCFG code: 10.1 – standard abbreviation: HAR
See Tree Map display tree map
OverviewThese are gears for killing, wounding or grappling fish, whales and marine mammals. In its simplest forms the harpoons are built from a wood pole having a steel point with one or more fixed or movable barbs at its forward end. Usually the harpoon is connected with a retrieving line. Modern harpoons are shot by guns. Harpoons used for whaling can be electrified or equipped with grenades.Accessory EquipmentHarpoons differ from spears in that the point becomes separated from the shaft when it penetrates the victim and the shaft floats to the surface. The point and the shaft remaining connected by a line. Whaling harpoons have a retrieving line which runs from the shaft of the harpoon to the operating vessel. The line, with a total lengths of up to 1 000 m is running through a tension absorber, from there it is led round the drum of the whale winch then down to the hold of the vessel .Handling EquipmentModern harpoons can be pushed or thrown by hand as well as they can be shot with rifles or guns. Harpoons are a very common fishing gear for sport divers. Commercial fishing activities with harpoons are of minor importance.Vessel OverviewVessel used for harpoon fishing on swordfish have a remarkably long bowsprit ending with a small platform where the harpooner is stand on. A tub or crow's nest arrangement is often fitted on the mast for spotting. The vessel must have a reasonable speed, in the order of 10 knots, and be very maneuverable.Fish OperationWhen a prey is sighted, the vessel is steered towards its position, and the striker positions himself on the stand with the harpoon made ready directing the helmsman so that he can make his strike and capture the target species.Target SpeciesLarge pelagic species like tuna and Swordfish ; sharks; marine mammals like whales and seals.Water Area OverviewMediterranean sea; off the coast of California, Peru and Chile; North sea (Norwegian waters); Japanese waters.Gear EnvironmentSurface marine waters.ImpactsSpecies The main impact of this type of gears is represented by the captures of endangered species like sea mammals.
Powered by FIGIS