Archive for the 'Fishing history' Category

des 14 2009

Unique film showing the hunt for basking sharks

Published by under Fishing history,Sharks

For several decades fishermen caught basking shark by using a harpoon gun. This fishery was common along most of the Norwegian coast and each vessel could catch several sharks each day. The fishery was grounded on the demand for the high quality shark-liver oil (also used for high temperature engines) and the high priced shark-fins.

The season started in spring and the fishery was depended on calm sea. In the 18th century this was a dangerous fishery as the fishermen used hand harpoons and small boats on the open sea. Larger vessels and the harpoon gun (as seen on the film) made the fishery more efficient and safer. The harpoon was shot through the basking shark and the shark was then forced to the surface. In order to kill the shark the fishermen used a rifle and aimed for its head.

The Norwegian basking shark fishery has been history for a couple of decades and the basking shark is preserved in Norwegian waters.

5 responses so far

jul 04 2008

The traditional Italian fishery for bluefin tuna – tonnara

Published by under Fishing history

The use of the traditional traps (tonnare) in Sardinia (southern Italy) can be traced back to the 15th century when the areas were under Spanish influence. The tonnara is a complex fishing gear consisting of nets and chambers. Every year the trap is set out at the same place. A leading net that may be over 1000 meters long leads the fish into several chambers. Illustrasjon: P. Massidda.

Illutrating the Italian tonnara

The leading net lead the fish to different chambers whereas some can be opened and closed manually. The Italians name the leading net as «the tail» and the part with the chambers is referred to as «the castle». A large number of heavy anchors are used in order to maintain the position of the tonnara.

Mattaza tonnara

At the end of century there were over 25 tonnare in Sardinia. The fishing season lasted from the end of April till the middle of June when the bluefin tuna were migrating along the coastline. The caught tuna end their lives in the last chamber in the trap; the chamber of death (camera della morte). From this part of the trap the tuna is forced to the surface and landed into boats attached to the trap. To the coastal communities this is an important event called «Mattanza». The pictures on this post show this happening in the 1940’s. During this highlight of the catch as many as 100 fishermen may participate. In a single catch there could be several thousands tuna.

Italian tonnara - fish trap

The tonnara was emptied 12-15 times during a season and the Mattanza was led by a supervisor; named the «Rais». The pictures on this post shows fishermen from Carloforte (Sardinia). Almost the entire population in this coastal community are participating in the one of the many processes regarding the fishery, work related to the fishing gear, canning, freight, export and so on. Large bluefin tuna were sold fresh for local consumption or canned for export. At the end of the 1960’s there was a significant decrease in the catches for this traditional italian fishery and there are now only three tonnare left in Sardina. In the entire Mediterranean Sea there are believed to be not more than 10 such fish traps left. Photos given by Piero Addis.

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mar 12 2008

The power of the bluefin tuna

The northern bluefin tuna (thynnus thynnus) is made for speed. The bluefin tuna is one of the fastest fish in the sea and this makes the tuna an attractive target for anglers. In this post I want to show you some photos taken off the coast of Norway (1970 – 1980). Due to decades of overfishing the bluefin tuna is no longer present along the Norwegian coast. These photos focus on the power of this big fish.

Powerful bluefin tuna

The photo above is taken in 1970. A tuna seiner has trapped a shoal of bluefin tuna. The seine is hauled, but one of the tuna causes problems for the fishermen. The crew tries to free the tuna in order to continue hauling the seine.

Tuna fishing

The tuna is trapped. The big fish tries to escape, but the strong seine stops them.

Trapped bluefin tuna

The photos on this page are taken in the summer time. Still the crew is dressed as if it was raining. By looking at the photos you’ll understand why. The battle with the trapped tuna was wetter than a shower. The photos below are from july 1980. The bluefin tuna need to swim in order to get enough oxygen – provided by the constant flow of water being filtrated by their gills. When trapped in a seine – unable to swim – the lack of oxygen will make the tuna calm (unconscious). Then it is time to get the tuna on board.

Tuna fishing

A big bluefin tuna

More photos and information about the former bluefin tuna fishery in Norway can be found on these posts: The first catch of bluefin tuna using seine i Norway – 1926 and Fishing bluefin tuna. Photos on this page: Edvin Bakkevik and Arne Saltskår.

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jan 26 2008

King crab in the Barents Sea – uninvited and wanted

The king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticu) in the Pacific Ocean is a large crab. It can weight up to 15 kg. In the 1960’s Russian scientists transported live king crabs from the Pacific to the Barents Sea. The plan was to create a new industry for the fishermen in the area around Murmansk.

King crab. Photo:

It took many years to build the stock, but (unfortunately) the Russians succeeded. In the late 1970’s the king crab invaded the northern coast of Norway. As the years went by the stock in the Norwegian waters grew, and the crab found new grounds where it could feed and spawn. In fjords and along the coastline the king crab became a problem for the fishermen. The fishing nets could be full of crabs. The king crabs were also eating the bait on the long lines.

King crabs in norther Norway

In the 1990’s the king crabs became so numerous that they were threatening the existence of the fishermen in the fjords and along the coast in northern Norway. It took years before the fishermen were allowed to fish for the crabs. An agreement between Russia and Norway opened for a commercial fishery for king crabs in Norwegian waters in 2002.

The troubled fishermen finally got a quota. The crab that had caused so much problems and worries for the fishermen became a blessing. The crab is caught using large pots. In the last years fishing for king crabs has been the most profitable fishery for many fishermen in the northern part of Norway.

Though the situation for the fishermen got better, we still do not know how the large stock of king crab in the Barents Sea will effect the environment. The crabs are still «eating their way» east and west in the Barents Sea, and it may take many years before we are fully aware of the consequences. Around the world there are enough of tragic examples of how new species effect the nature.

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