Are Some Fishing ­Methods More Sustainable Than Others?


Business fishing employs a broad vary of strategies, solely a few of that are sustainable. Probably the most sustainable strategies have the smallest influence on different aquatic species and the atmosphere. These embody pole and line (an angler can shortly establish and launch any unintended catch); spearfishing and harpooning; and trolling.

Floating fish traps and weirs are additionally sustainable strategies, as a result of fish can enter traps with out risking entanglement, which is a matter with nets.

All these strategies assist decrease environmental injury and overfishing in addition to bycatch, which is the unintentional harvest of nontarget species, resembling dolphins, turtles, and seabirds.

On the different finish of the spectrum are strategies that take an infinite toll on sea life and ocean well being. These embody backside trawling and dredging, each of which contain dragging weighted nets throughout the ocean ground. These strategies injury habitat, sweeping up every part of their wake, they usually result in substantial bycatch.

Large drift nets, which transfer with the present, additionally seize massive numbers of nontarget species. The identical is true for miles-long strains with a number of baited hooks; these appeal to many species, so bycatch is important.

Methods to Catch a Fish

The next is a listing of fishing strategies which are sustainable — and a few strategies that aren’t.

There have all the time been easy and eco-friendly strategies for capturing fish. Some conventional approaches embody solid nets, nonetheless utilized by subsistence fishers worldwide, and reef nets, used at this time by Indigenous communities in areas just like the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Most industrial fishing is finished utilizing among the following strategies. To make sure what you’re shopping for is sustainable, search for strategies that restrict overfishing, decrease bycatch of different species, and don’t injury the atmosphere.

Whereas no method is foolproof — even probably the most sustainable technique gained’t put fish again into overfished waters — there are some strategies that produce much less injury than others.


Floating fish-trap and weir fishing — nets held in place with floats and anchors that permit fish to enter a sequence of extra restrictive areas with out coming into direct contact with the web. They will then be both harvested or launched with out being injured or entangled.

Pole-and-line fishing, fly fishing, jigging, and rod-and-reel fishing — use of a single rod with one hook baited to catch fish. An angler can shortly take away undesirable catches from the hook after seize, minimizing bycatch, environmental injury, and overfishing.

Spearfishing, hand-diving, and harpooning — Spearfishing (utilizing handheld spears) and harpooning (utilizing barbs fired from a gun) are conventional strategies used for catching bigger species, like swordfish. Hand-diving is often used for smaller species, like scallops, that are merely gathered by hand, permitting the fisher to depart youthful fish out to maintain creating. Bycatch is sort of nonexistent with these strategies, since all of them goal particular person fish.

Trolling — a kind of pole fishing by which a person weighted line and single hook loaded with a synthetic lure or stay bait is towed from a transferring boat. Bycatch, environmental injury, and overfishing are minimal on this technique.

It Relies upon

Purse-Seining — A web (seine) with floats on the high and weights on the backside is hung vertically within the water, encircling education fish, and a drawstring is pulled to lure them. Whereas this technique doesn’t hurt the seafloor, it could seize species indiscriminately, resulting in excessive ranges of bycatch of marine life like sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales. It could additionally result in overfishing.

Not Sustainable

Trawling — The Marine Conservation Institute calls trawling the world’s most damaging kind of fishing. A ship drags a weighted web behind it to catch fish or shrimp that stay in, on, or simply above the seafloor. Since over 98 % of marine animal species stay on this space, bycatch is heavy on this technique. Trawling additionally damages the seabed, upsetting the steadiness of ocean ecosystems. For the reason that ocean can be one of many Earth’s largest carbon sinks, disrupting the seafloor releases tons of carbon into the environment.

Dredging — A mesh bag is dragged alongside the seafloor to seize clams, scallops, and oysters. Like trawling, this technique damages the seafloor and captures fish, sponges, and different marine life that have a tendency to not survive seize.

Drift-net fishing — These lengthy, cellular nets are positioned within the water and drift with the present. They will seize a considerable amount of fish, resulting in overfishing. In addition they generate a excessive quantity of bycatch.

Lengthy-lining — One very lengthy central line (as much as 50 miles in some instances) with hooks dangling from it’s used to catch fish close to the ocean floor or simply off the ocean ground. Lengthy-lining attracts numerous species, so bycatch could be important.

This was excerpted from “Methods to Discover Sustainable Seafood” which was printed within the June 2022 problem of Expertise Life.