Lesson 8: Catching Fish

Lesson 9: Farming Fish

Lesson 10: Eating Fish



Learning objectives

By the end of this lesson, the students will be able to:

  • compare and know the difference between traditional small-scale fishing and industrial fishing
  • recognize the main fishing boats and gears
  • name and explain the different methods used to catch fish



  • The world’s fishing fleet counts millions of vessels. These include traditional non-motorized boats powered by sails and oars and fishing vessels powered by engines. Almost 90 percent of motorized fishing boats in the world are less than 12 metres long.
  • Traditional small-scale fishing is just one way to catch fish. There are also big industrial vessels able to catch vast numbers of fish that are designed to navigate the oceans for several weeks or months. They can have big crews of hundreds of people. Some are even designed to catch, clean, scale, freeze and pack fish directly on board! Advances in technology make it possible to fish anywhere. Trawling vessels use depth recorders and Global Positioning System equipment to find bottom fish and crustaceans.
  • In 2006 the world marine fisheries caught about 82 million tonnes of fish. The ten species that contribute most to global catches are: Anchoveta, Alaska pollock, Skipjack tuna, Atlantic herring, Blue whiting, Chub macerel, Chilean jack macere, Japanese anchovy, Largehead hairtail, Yellowfin tuna.
  • China, Peru and the USA are the top producing countries.
Boats and gears
Curious facts

In the Stone Age man fished in the same way as he hunted - with harpoons and spears.

Nets were invented in Egypt in 2000 b.C.

  • Fishing boats around the world are very diverse. They range from 2-metre self-made canoes to industrial trawlers 130-metres long.
  • About one-third of all boats are decked while the remaining two-thirds are undecked. Undecked boats are normally small boats without a motor. Most of them are used in Asia. The average size of decked boats is around 10-15 metres. Those longer than 24 metres amount to about 1 percent of the world fishing fleet. China has approximately half of these larger vessels.
  • A fishing gear is the tool with which fish and other water animals are captured. Main fishing gears are all sorts of nets (seines, gillnets, trawls, cast nets), traps (pots, bag nets, fixed traps), hooks and lines, harpoons and spears. In many countries fishing gear is regulated and it is necessary to have a licence to use it.
Fishing methods
  • Longlining attracts fish with a long central fishing line which can reach up to 80 km in length. This central line is strung with smaller lines of baited hooks. After leaving the line for a while to attract fish, longliners return to haul in their catch. If they hang their hooks near the water surface they catch such fish as tuna and swordfish. If they float them near the ocean bottom they catch such fish as cod and halibut.
  • Trawling is towing (dragging) a cone-shaped net behind a boat. Nets can be towed at various depths. Mid-water trawlers catch faster swimming fish such as sardines. Bottom trawls are dragged on the ocean bottom to catch fish that live there like cod, flounder and shrimp.
  • Purse seining is encircling a group of fish with a large net and pulling the bottom of the net closed (like a drawstring purse). This method is used to catch fish that gather in groups like sardines, tuna and squid.
  • Trapping is catching fish in wire or wood cages that usually lie on the bottom and can be baited. A rope runs from the trap to a buoy floating at the surface, so fishermen can locate their gear. Traps are used to catch lobsters, crabs, shrimp, sablefish. They remain alive until fishermen return to haul in their gear.



Fishing gear worksheet (PDF  - 164Kb)

Provide each student with a fishing gear worksheet and ask them to match the drawings with their names:

  • hook
  • line
  • gillnet
  • seine
  • trawl
  • cast net
  • trap
  • pot
  • bag net
  • harpoon
Act it out!
  1. Divide the group into two teams.
  2. Explain that the aim of the game is to depict by miming different fishing gears and methods, such as trapping, purse seining, trawling, longlining, fishing with a harpoons, a rod, etc. They will not be allowed to use words at all, but can make use of some of the materials.
  3. Assign the tasks and give the teams a few minutes to rehearse their mime. Everyone should have a role in it.
  4. Then have the teams show their performances and guess what fishing gears and methods are depicted and why.
Special reports
  1. Divide students into two groups. One group are TV news reporters and are to produce a 5-minute documentary on traditional fishing in your region. Another group are radio reporters and are to create a radio programme on industrial fishing in your part of the world.
  2. Tell them to collect as much information as possible, speak to the fishermen, do a library research, visit a museum.
  3. Then they should choose presenters, plan and act out their shows.
Catch the fish (energizer)
  1. Draw a circle at the ends of the room. Place three balls or similar objects in the centre of the room. Tell the players that the balls represent fish and they are fishers trying to catch the fish and bring it to their ports (circles).
  2. Divide the group into two teams and tell them to line up at the two opposite walls. They should number off and remember their numbers.
  3. When the teacher or the leader calls a number, those players run to the centre of the room, pick up one ball and place it in their “ports”.
  4. They then return to get the remaining fish. The player who is successful in getting it, scores a point for the team.