To catch or not to catch

Fishing from the earliest time
While we do not know when humans started catching fish, it was probably during the same period that Homo sapiens learned to use tools. Fishing might be one of our earliest hunting activities.  The earliest tools for fishing were probably spears or hooks made of wood and/or bones or stone dams that formed traps. Fishing gear has since continuously evolved as new materials, such as metals, were developed and as humans ventured further away from the shore into deeper waters. The development of engines and plastics dramatically changed fishing gear, fishing technology, and fishing grounds during the twentieth century. While the basic forms of fishing gear such as hooks and nets have remained the same for a long time, new technologies have put heavy pressures on fisheries resources, aquatic ecosystems, and the environment in general.

Today it is sometimes more challenging not to catch certain species or size of fish. And the long-lasting synthetic material which was hailed as one of the greatest inventions in the history of fishing has become one of the most pressing environmental issues for the ocean where most fishing takes place.


Over the past 50 years, geo-political crises that influence fuel prices and, lately, concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels have prompted research on fuel-saving fishing gears and operations. The overfishing of certain species and/or stocks in various regions along with the protection of vulnerable animals at sea has meant shifting the research focus. Innovative designs and operational methods now take into account variations in species-specific fish behaviour to improve selectivity and reduce mortality to endangered, threatened, and protected species. The aim is to find the right stimuli and gear design to separate wanted and unwanted species.


The full article can be found at

Read more about ICES work on fishing technology and fish behaviour here at