Fishing technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years, as declining fish populations have forced the industry to look farther and deeper in order to catch fish.
TRAPS are used to catch lobsters, crabs, and sometimes fish. Individual traps can be sustainable if they’re fitted with trap doors that allow juvenile lobsters to escape. Long lines of traps, however, can even entangle whales with their floating lines.
DREDGES catch scallops and fish by dragging across the seafloor. They can crush corals, catch sea turtles, and disturb all kinds of seafloor life.
PURSE SEINE NETS catch schooling fish like tuna by encircling the school with a wall of netting. They can capture dolphins and other natural predators feeding on the school, though it is possible to release dolphins by backing down the net if the operator takes the time.
TRAWL NETS catch shrimp, cod, haddock, and other fish. Bottom trawls drag weighted nets across the seafloor, crushing corals or any other marine life in their path. Bottom trawls also discard more unwanted fish than almost any other form of fishing and are extremely destructive. Midwater trawls drag large nets through the water to catch pollock and other schooling fish, and when their nets are full, they may also drag on the bottom.
GILLNETS are one of the most widely used methods in the world for catching salmon and sharks. When not closely tended, gillnets can entangle and drown sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. Some gillnets also snag large numbers of juvenile fish, which contributes to overfishing.
LONGLINES catch tuna and swordfish with miles of baited hooks that also capture sea turtles, sharks, and endangered sawfish. One longline can have thousands of hooks.
GREENSTICKS are tall poles fixed to the back of a boat that tow a series of lines with hooks at the surface of the water. Greensticks are considered more responsible than longlines because they have fewer hooks and are more closely tended.
HARPOONS are used to catch tuna and swordfish in one of the most responsible fishing techniques; They have little to no bycatch, which leaves the surrounding marine habitat intact. Harpoon fishermen target fish from the front of a boat and sometimes work with spotter planes to find fish.