Portcities Southampton
UK * Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton
*
You are here: PortCities Southampton > Diversity of Ships > Ships of the steam age > Fishing by steam > Fishing by steam
* Text only * About this site * Site Map * Feedback
*
*
*
Explore this site
Start Here
About Us
Partners And Collections
Timeline
Get Interactive!
Help
Galleries
Image galleries
Biographies
Southampton
The Docks
River Itchen
Southampton at war
Flying Boats
Titanic
Finding Out More
Southampton speaks
Street Directories
Historic Buildings Survey
Registers and Records
Lloyd's Register
Official Sources
Other Records
Finding Out More
Wrecks and Accidents
Why accidents happen
Investigations
Improving Safety at Sea
Finding Out More
Wreck Reports
Life of a Port
How a port comes to life
At work in a port
Ports at play
Trade - lifeblood of a port
Finding Out More
On the Line
Company growth and development
Shipping lines
Transatlantic travel
Preparing a liner
Finding Out More
Sea People
Life at sea
Jobs at sea
Travelling by sea
Starting a new life by sea
Women and the sea
Finding Out More
Diversity of Ships
The variety of ships
What drives the ship?
Ships of ancient times
Ships in the age of sail
Ships of the steam age
Ships of today

Fishing by steam

Steam makes fishing more productive
*
Send this Story to a friend Send this story to a friend
Printer Friendly Version Printer-friendly version

Steam makes fishing more productive

Fishing has a history at least as long as that of boats and ships.  The effect of steam was to make fishing more productive, allowing fishing vessels to be more efficient and to cover greater distances in order to exploit new fishing grounds.  Perhaps they have become just too effective, as present day depletions of many fish stocks are due to over-fishing.

Trawlers

The first steam vessels to go fishing were probably steam tugs, which put down a net to catch fish when they were not busy towing.  From these tugs in the late 18th century developed steam trawlers, which adopted a method of fishing already in use by sailing vessels.  The trawl is a large conical bag, dragged along the seabed by two ropes from the trawler.  When full, the trawl is drawn up to the trawler by a powerful winch, then lifted on board and the fish dumped on deck.  After the catch was sorted on a traditional trawler it was placed on ice in the holds until it could be taken back to port.  

Steam trawlers originally fished mainly in the North Sea until diminishing fish stocks drove their owners to send them further afield.  After the Second World War, distant water trawlers fished off Iceland and in the Barents Sea, for instance.  This meant they had to be bigger and more strongly built to survive in some of the world’s stormiest weather.  Until the 1960s the typical side-fishing trawler brought its nets up at the side, with its deck crew working on deck, often in atrocious weather conditions.  The advent of the stern trawler made distant water fishing somewhat safer.  

The net is drawn up through a slipway in the stern and the catch dropped onto a lower deck for sorting.  A trawler can make a round voyage of 5,000 miles during one fishing trip, so facilities are provided for freezing the catch so it arrives home in good condition.  Some owners have gone further and incorporated a factory on board to process the fish.

Drifters

Steam drifters evolved from sailing craft to carry out a different form of fishing.  They use a drift net which can be several kilometres long, and which is suspended vertically from a series of buoys.  The fish swim into the net and are caught by their gills.  The drift net is put out at dusk because the fish it catches, typically herring, feed near the surface at night, and is pulled on board the drifter in the morning.  Drifters work much closer to home than trawlers, and tend to be smaller.  With the decline of herring stocks in the North Sea and elsewhere after the Second World War, drifting and drifters have virtually died out.

Seine netters

Amongst the most popular current methods of inshore fishing is purse seining, using a net which combines elements of the trawl and the drift net.  The net is about a kilometre long and is shot in an arc.  The ends are drawn together, enclosing the catch in the bag or purse.  Ropes are hauled in to reduce the size of the bag until it can be drawn on board.  Purse seining typically involves a small motor fishing vessel, which looks like a miniature version of a trawler.

Steam makes fishing more productive
*
Send this Story to a friend Send this story to a friend
Printer Friendly Version Printer-friendly version
*
Search

Advanced Search
*
*
*
Southampton City Council New Opportunities Fund Lloyd's Register London Metropolitan Archives National Maritime Museum World Ship Society  
Legal & Copyright * Partner sites: Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton * Text only * About this site * Feedback