Fishing gears and methods
Deploying a purse seine
Methods to catch fish and other aquatic resources, with or without a gear, have always been practiced. Although the fundamental principles, i.e. filtering the water, luring and outwitting the prey and hunting, are the basis for most of the fishing gears and methods used even today, gears and methods have changed significantly over time and their capture efficiency is obviously hardly comparable to that of prehistoric times.
A fishing gear is the tool with which aquatic resources are captured, whereas the fishing method is how the gear is used. Gear also includes harvesting organisms when no particular gear (tool) is involved. Furthermore, the same fishing gear can be used in different ways. A common way to classify fishing gears and methods is based on the principles of how the fish or other prey are captured and, to a lesser extent, on the gear construction.
Pulling in fishing nets
FAO defines and classifies the main categories of fishing gear as follows:
This classification is being slightly modified to accommodate the most recent development of fishing gears and methods and will soon be published.
Pole and line gear
Fishing methods have continuously evolved throughout recorded history. Fishers are inventive and not afraid of trying new ideas. The opportunities for innovation have been especially good in recent decades with advances in fibre technology, mechanization of gear handling, improved performances of vessels and motorization, computer processing for gear design, navigation aids, fish detection to mention only a few technologies.
Whereas technological development of fishing gear and methods in the past was aimed to increase production, the present situation with many overfished stock, limited possibilities to expand fishing on underexploited resources and concerns about the environmental impact of fishing operation, gear development is now very much focussed on selective fishing and gears with less impact on the environment.