A range of gears and methods are used in commercial fishing. Every type of gear has some effect on the ocean environment. However, if carefully managed, virtually all gear types can be used responsibly and sustainably.
The common gear types below are some of those used by fisheries engaged in the MSC program.
Except for fisheries using explosives and poisons, any fishery catching fish in the wild can be assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard
. The impacts of a fishery on habitats and fish populations are considered by an independent assessment team.
Bottom - or demersal - trawling is a fishing method that uses towed nets to catch fish and other marine species living on or close to the sea floor.
A gillnet is a wall or curtain of netting that hangs in the water. The term covers several forms including stationary gillnets and trammel nets.
As the name suggests, longline fisheries trail a long line, or main line, behind a boat. Baited hooks are attached to the nets at intervals to attract the target species.
Purse seines are used in the open ocean to target dense schools of single-species pelagic (midwater) fish like tuna and mackerel.
Pole and line is a fishing method used to catch tuna and other large pelagic (midwater) species one fish at a time.
Stationary traps, or pots, typically made from wood, wire netting or plastic, are used to catch crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs.
Dredges are rigid structures that are towed along the seabed to harvest bivalves such as scallops, oysters and clams.
Pelagic, or midwater trawls have a cone-shaped body and a closed ‘cod-end’ that holds their catch.
Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) are floating structures that attract fish in the open ocean. Usually, they are manufactured, but some fisheries also target natural structures, like free-floating logs.