- A new episode of “Mongabay Explains” examines the difference between artisanal and industrial fishing.
- Broadly speaking, artisanal fishing is a form of traditional fishing that uses relatively small, low-powered boats to make short trips close to shore and catch relatively small quantities of fish, whereas industrial fishing uses large vessels that make longer trips farther out to sea and catch larger volumes of fish.
- There are plenty of other differences between the two fishing sectors, too, including their relative impact on the marine environment.
- In this video, Mongabay explores the differences between the two forms of fishing, including some ways people are trying to make each sector more sustainable.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “fishing”? A supertrawler unloading a massive net bursting with fish onto its deck, attended by a dozen crewmembers? Or a pair of fishers casting their lines from a wooden canoe?
Around the world, the scale at which people collect fish from the sea varies along a grand continuum. At one end lies industrial fishing, with its big ships with powerful engines, voluminous nets, long voyages and massive catches. At the other, artisanal or small-scale fishing, with smaller boats, lower-tech gear, shorter trips and modest catches.
There are other differences between the two fishing sectors, too, such as the destination of their catches: typically export markets, including for animal feeds, for the industrial fishers, and typically local or regional markets for human consumption for the artisanal fishers.
Industrial and artisanal fishing also differ in their relative impact on the marine environment. It’s not just the size of their catches that makes a difference, but also the amount of fish each sector discards, among other factors.
The two sectors have come into conflict in many parts of the world, such as West Africa, Madagascar and Brazil, with artisanal fishers often accusing the industrials of scooping up too much fish or making incursions into zones reserved for them.
Still, it’s not as simple as saying industrial fisheries are too big to continue while artisanal fisheries are the way to go. For one thing, the global demand for fish is huge; for another, each sector is diverse and there’s room for improvement in both.
Watch our short explainer video above to find out more, including some ways people are trying to make both industrial and artisanal fisheries more sustainable.
Banner image: A traditional fishing boat in Java, Indonesia, photographed in 2012. Image by Rhett A. Butler for Mongabay.
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