Commercial fishing is the practice of harvesting marine species for sale on a large scale by boat for profit, usually to sell into the marketplace. As one of the world’s most common occupations generating over $150 billion a year in first sale revenues alone, commercial fishing plays an indispensable role in providing protein sources to over 3 billion people who depend on wild capture fisheries as their primary food source. Unfortunately however, overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing present significant threats to sustainable fisheries and ocean health.
Working conditions for fishermen can be hazardous, particularly those employed on vessels at sea where they spend weeks or months at a time trawling nets far from shore and living aboard their vessel. According to one report from Seattle Times, commercial fishery workers are four times more likely to die in an accident at sea than office employees.
Commercial fishermen typically employ various fishing equipment to capture marine animals for consumption and bait use. They measure caught fish to ensure compliance with legal size requirements, and release any illegal catches they find. They may work alone or as part of a crew; often spending days or even weeks at sea on larger boats with specialized gear.
Bottom trawling, one of the most widely employed commercial fishing techniques, creates what some have referred to as “walls of death.” Unable to see through this invisible net, many animals become trapped inside it either because they don’t fit through its meshes or become stuck trying to back out; some become entangled and die, while others struggle so desperately they eventually bleed to death before succumbing.
Other gear includes trolling lines towed behind boats with at least 20 baited hooks attached, traps and pots dropped into the ocean floor with bait to capture shellfish such as crab or lobster, and trolling lines which contain 10 or more hooks with 20 or more baited hooks attached, as well as pots set off by boats to capture crab or lobster, which are considered less destructive methods compared with trawls/trolls; although setting traps/pots in specific ways may still have environmental impacts depending on their placement in relation to its surroundings.
Fishermen use various techniques for collecting invertebrates such as clams, oysters and scallops from the ocean floor; one of these is known as dredging; similar to bottom trawling but using a metal rake-like device called dredging instead. Divers can also physically grab creatures like sea urchins or sea cucumbers off of the floor using hand-held nets directly from beneath their surfaces before transporting them onboard for harvesting.