craft employed in commercial fisheries. In general, fishing vessels are small, usually under 18 m (under 60 ft) in length. The fishing fleets of nations with well-developed fisheries often include much larger vessels, but small boats, propelled by oars, sail, or engines represent the largest single investment in the fishing industries of most nations. Although the development of fishing vessels began in ancient times, little was recorded about the characteristics of such boats until the 18th and 19th centuries. At that time drawings and pictures of fishing vessels became common, particularly in northern Europe and North America, where the fisheries were important in the national economies.
Early North American Types
More than 200 distinct types of fishing boats were developed in North America, each suitable to the geographical, climatic, or economic conditions prevailing in the area of its use. The intensive development of sailing fishing craft in the 18th and 19th centuries produced in North America many notable types of vessels. A large number of highly individualistic types were also developed in the maritime countries abroad The most popular early sailing craft used in the American fisheries carried a spritsail rig. In the 1880s the gaff-mainsail and large-single-jib sloop replaced some of the spritsail craft. Another popular rig employed two masts without jib or headsail, with the foresail
somewhat larger than the mainsail. Because many early North American fishing boats had shallow-draft hulls, the use of the centerboard was widespread. Some of the centerboard models were replaced late in the 19th century by keel hull forms, of which the Friendship sloop of Maine is an example. The schooners used in the Long Island, New Jersey, and Chesapeake Bay oyster fisheries
were usually centerboard craft. Keel hull forms predominated in offshore and exposed- water fisheries such as the Grand Banks fisheries, located off Newfoundland.
Early European Types
The sailing craft used in the fisheries of Europe also varied a great deal in model and rig The lugsail and lateen-saIl rig were relatively common, the lateen in the Mediterranean region and the lug on the northern European and British coasts. The gaff-rigged ketch and gaff-rigged cutter were also employed extensively in the fisheries of northern Europe. The
spritsail was used on some Dutch, Scandinavian, Greek, and Turkish fishing craft. Most of the European sailing fishing vessels were of keel hull form. The centerboard was employed very rarely. Lee boards were used extensively on the Belgian and Dutch coasts, where shoal-craft fishing boats were required because of the shallow water in that area.
Early Asian fishing boats varied greatly. The Chinese fishers developed a large variety of sculling, rowing, and sailing craft ranging from small open skiffs, or sampans, to large decked craft, or junks, 21 m (70 ft) or more in overall length. Most of these craft were rigged with lugsails although a few employed a type of spritsail. As a rule the fishing junks and sampans sailed swiftly and were highly seaworthy. The Japanese used sailing and rowing sampans with simple rigs usually a small lugsail or square sail. After 1875, however, some schooner-rigged sampans appeared, and schooners of the American type were built for offshore fisheries. In southern Asia the outrigged, dugout canoe, as well as various types of planked boats, were employed in the inshore fisheries. The Malays developed a very swift, double-ended sailing canoe, the prau, and the Indians and Arabs on the Persian Gulf produced swift- sailing, decked fishing craft, usually with lateen or very similar rig.
Early Power Fishing Vessels
Steam was not used extensively for the propulsion of small fishing boats. The weight and cost of engine and boiler made such craft generally uneconomical in North America and Europe. Steam fishing vessels and steam auxiliary schooners were built in the U.S. after the American Civil War, but such vessels were profitable in few fisheries. The menhaden fisheries and others of the U.S. employed steamers from about 1886 until the introduction of the gasoline and diesel engines. Soon after reliable gasoline engines appeared, frequent attempts were made to employ motor craft in the inshore fisheries. As early as 1908 fishing boats powered by such engines were common on the New England coast, on the Great Lakes, and on the southern and Pacific coasts of the U.S. The replacement of the old sailing types of fishing boats by motor craft was well advanced in North America in 1914, and the movement was accelerated during World War I. The replacement of old sailing types became quite rapid in Europe after the war.
Types of modern fishing boats are less numerous than the old sailing models, but recent years have seen a revolution in the design, mechanization, and automation of hulls and gear. Today countries such as Japan, the United States, and Russia are capable of placing huge, self-contained fleets on fishing grounds far from their own shores. Giant ships with hospitals, repair shops, fuel tanks, libraries, and other necessities and comforts oversee swarms of smaller trawlers. Some fleets are made up of large freezer trawlers or factory trawlers that catch, process, and store the fish for weeks at sea and then deliver their catch hundreds or thousands of kilometers from the fishing grounds in prime condition. European and Asian countries have led in the development of modern fishing vessels, typified by the stern-ramp trawler and the factory ship. The appearance of their fleets off
both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S. has caused great concern among fishers but has been beneficial because it has spurred outdated segments of the American fishing industry into developing vessels capable of competing with the encroaching foreign fleets. American fishing craft were traditionally made of wood; however, most modern vessels use other materials, such as steel, aluminum, and fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP). The majority of the larger vessels are of steel construction. Today even some of the smallest commercial fishing craft are built of FRP or aluminum to increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. Most of the new vessels are designed for a particular fishing method, but some are laid out so that they can be converted easily to use in other fisheries. These are called combination boats and offer their owners the chance to keep operating throughout the year. The combination boat is especially popular in the American Northwest, where various seasons are set by law and a vessel must operate in several fisheries to pay its way. Although a variety of fish are hunted, only a few basic types of vessels are used. Thus, small, gasoline-powered boats ranging from 6 to 12 m (20 to 40 ft) in length and rigged for trap, net, or line fishing are used in the New England lobster fisheries, in the finfish and shellfish fisheries of the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and in the salmon fisheries of the Northwest. The use of hydraulic machinery and electronic navigation and fish-finding devices on these boats is eliminating some of the drudgery from their operation. Draggers or trawlers, powered with diesel engines and from 12 m (40 ft) in length to as much as 90 m (almost 300 ft), tow nets, called trawls, for fish or dredge for shellfish. Conventional trawlers are side trawlers; that is, they tow their nets from one side of the vessel. Most new ships, however, are stern trawlers and tow and haul over a stern ramp. The latter are considered more efficient. Shrimp trawlers tow their nets from booms swung out on each side of the boat. In all cases, powerful winches wind in the cables leading to the nets, which in turn are held open by hydrofoils, called trawl boards or doors. Seiners carry giant nets with surface floats on one edge and weights on the other. The nets are towed around a school of fish by a small net boat while one end of the net remains fastened to the main vessel. The bottom of the net is then pursed, or closed, and the net is tightened by a powerblock aboard the seiner. The catch, consisting of tiny anchovies, herring, salmon, or big tuna, depending on the fishery, is then bailed or pumped aboard the seiner. Deep-sea long-liners and gillnet vessels are similar in that they are big, able boats ranging from 15 m (50 ft) to more than 30 m (about 100 ft) in length. The long-liner operates by setting long lines many hundreds of meters in length, anchored and buoyed at each end, with shorter lines and baited hooks tied to the main lines. Bottomfish (cod haddock, halibut) and pelagic fish (swordfish, tuna, shark) are caught on longlines. Asian high-seas fishing vessels set drift nets, which are clear, hanging gillnets up to 64 km (40 mi) long. Such nets entangle squid and many other species of fish and, accidentally, marine mammals. In 1992, the U.S. Congress imposed a ban on the importation of fish caught with such nets. The trend today is toward greater comfort, safety, and efficiency on fishing vessels throughout the world,needs brought about by the competition of well-paying shoreside jobs and the high cost of running a fishing boat. The need to modernize is forcing fishers to look beyond traditional types of fishing vessels and is prompting naval architects to design more adaptable and profitable craft.