Fishing Technology—Boom And Bust?

In the last several decades, very large factory trawlers (some 440 feet long) have been built with the capability of not only catching huge quantities of seafood, but also preparing the catch for market and putting it into on-board cold storage for later distribution at dockside. These factory trawlers are designed to set expansive nets to plunge downward and bring in tons of bottom fish or lay out many miles of a single line with hundreds of fish hooks to reel in tons of highly prized blue-fin tuna or sword fish for restaurant tables around the globe.

Helping these ships get properly located, as well as keeping them apprised of ever changing weather conditions, are the latest in satellite navigational aids. Once there, high tech sonar is used to locate the catch. In the battle of wits with humans, even wily fish don’t stand much of a chance with this kind of sophisticated tackle.

Initially, these huge seagoing enterprises were the marvel of the oceans for they were hailed as modernity’s answer to bringing a seemingly endless supply of much-needed protein to an ever-enlarging human market. What really surprised the fishing industry was that this intensive large-scale fishing in the course of few short years depleted many marine species to the point of near extinction. Due to over-fishing many of these monster trawlers and their crews are now sitting idle with a dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of the world’s fishing industry.

So what appeared to be a grand boon, busted when man had no choice but to accept the reality that the oceans have natural resource limitations, heretofore thought to be endlessly abundant.