Long line fishing is perhaps one of the most controversial types of fishing today because while it is very successful in catching the intended species of fish, invariably it will also catch many other fish, which are generally discarded. Long lining is a form of commercial fishing and is used to catch some of the largest species of fish seen in supermarkets, fish markets, and on the menu of your favorite restaurant; most notably the swordfish. You might recall that the fisherman aboard the Andrea Gale in the movie “The Perfect Storm’” were long line fisherman based in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The Long Line Controversy:
Long line fishing involves a technique whereby a baited hooks are attached to a main line with a swivel or a clip and then set into the water. The long line fishing vessel will move slowly through the water as the line, with fishing hooks attached are lowered into the water. The long line can span several miles and is set at different depths depending on the intended catch. The most popular species of fish caught on the long lines are swordfish, tuna, cod, halibut, black cod. One of the biggest issues surrounding long line fishing is what is called “bycatch” or other fish being hooked on this massive nets of hooks and wires. Sea birds are also at risk from long line fishing with some estimates that nearly 180,000 seabirds die each year on long lines. Long lines, while supplying a tremendous amount of commercial fish also catch and kill vast numbers of sharks with some estimates of “bycatch” being up to 35% of the total haul of the long line fishing vessel.
Long Line Fishing Gear:
The fishing spool used by long line fisherman is a huge hydraulic roller that ensures that the long line rolls off the back of the boat properly. It is designed for heavy monofilament line and distributes pressure evenly across the line as it rolls out. These spool come in various sizes depending on the size of the fish being targeted as well as the length of the lines being put into the water. Recall that a long line can extend for up to 10 miles and sometimes even further off the back of a boat. The long line fisherman and his crew will also need a full compliment of buoys and markers so that they and other passing ships know where the lines are in the water. These buoys and markers come in many different sizes, styles, and materials. There is the rigid long line float, the strobe light buoy, polyform inflatable buoy, Hy-Flyer buoy, spar buoy, radar reflectors, foam bullet buoy, and the Hy Flyer lead
Then there are the hauling blocks, winches, and powerful hydraulic oil coolers, ans wash down pumping systems; and these are probably just some of the many different systems you’ll find on a long liner.weight to name but a few.
Hooks are an important part of fishing, obviously, but especially in long line fishing. This is because today with the use of certain hooks such as the circle hook many unintended species can be released alive when they are hooked on a circle hook, which goes a long way toward cutting down on those fish that are killed by the long liner. Basically there are three kinds of hooks used in pelagic long line fishing: the Japanese tuna hook, the circle hook and the J hook. Japanese tuna hooks have been the most popular hooks, especially in fishing for tuna. They come in a variety of sizes depending on the size of the tuna being fished for. Japanese tuna hooks come either with a ring or without a ring eye. Circle hooks are also called G hooks or tuna circle hooks and are measured in much the same way Japan tuna hooks are measured. J hooks are very similar to big game trolling hooks used to catch marlin and other big game species. They also come in a variety of sizes with the most common size being those used in sword fishing. As noted, hook types used in long line fishing have become a big issue because of the number of sea turtles caught as bycatch. It has been found that using large circle hooks with mackerel bait can reduce the killing of this protected species.
The Bottom Line:
While long line fishing is indeed controversial because what some might call unintended consequences, i.e. massive killing of fish not being targeted, everyone does like the idea of fresh tuna at the favorite sushi restaurant, and broiled swordfish and fresh cod. The other problem is over-fishing that can put many species at risk of near extinction is another. Somewhere in the middle is a compromise that helps to keep the fishery in tact and the restaurant menus full.
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