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Fisherman and his catch, including small sharks, hooked on hand lines many miles off shore in the Seychelles

A fisherman or fisher is someone who captures fish and other animals from a body of water, or gathers shellfish.[1]

Worldwide, there are about 38 million commercial and subsistence fishermen and fish farmers.[2] The term can also be applied to recreational fishermen and may be used to describe both men and women. Fishing has existed as a means of obtaining food since the Mesolithic period.[3]


Egyptians bringing in fish and splitting them for salting

Fishing has existed as a means of obtaining food since the Mesolithic period. During the time of the Ancient Egyptians, fishermen provided the majority of food for Egyptians. Fishing had become a major means of survival as well as a business venture.[4]

Fishing and the fisherman have also influenced Ancient Egyptian religion; mullets were worshiped as a sign of the arriving flood season. Bastet was often manifested in the form of a catfish. In ancient Egyptian literature, the method that Amun used to create the world is associated with the tilapia's method of mouth-brooding.

Commercial fishermen[edit]

A fisherman in Kerala, India

According to the FAO, there were 38 million commercial and subsistence fishermen and fish farmers in 2002, more than triple the number in 1970. Of this total, 74% worked in capture fisheries and 26% in aquaculture. The total fishery production of 133 million tonnes equated to an average productivity of 3.5 tonnes per person.[2]

Most of this growth took place in Asian countries, where four-fifths of world fishers and fish farmers dwell.[2]

Most fishermen are men involved in offshore and deep-sea fisheries. Women fish in some regions inshore from small boats or collect shellfish and seaweed. In many artisanal fishing communities, women are responsible for making and repairing nets, post-harvest processing and marketing.[2]

Recreational fishermen[edit]

Recreational fishing is fishing for pleasure or competition. It can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is fishing for economic profit, or subsistence fishing, which is fishing for survival.

The most common form of recreational fishing is done with a rod, reel, line, hooks and any one of a wide range of baits. Lures are frequently used in place of bait. Some people make handmade lures, including plastic lures and artificial flies.

The practice of catching or attempting to catch fish with a hook is called angling. When angling, it is sometimes expected or required that the fish be caught and released. Big-game fishing is fishing from boats to catch large open-water species such as tuna, sharks and marlin. Noodling and trout tickling are also recreational activities.

Fishing communities[edit]

For some communities, fishing provides not only a source of food and work but also community and cultural identity.[5]

In the New Testament, Jesus is reported to have said to his disciples: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.[6]

Safety issues[edit]

A Royal Air Force search and rescue Sea King helicopter comes to the aid of the French fishing vessel Alf during a storm in the Irish Sea.

The fishing industry is hazardous for fishermen. Between 1992 and 1999, US commercial fishing vessels averaged 78 deaths per year. The main contributors to fatalities are:[7]

  • inadequate preparation for emergencies
  • poor vessel maintenance and inadequate safety equipment
  • lack of awareness of or ignoring stability issues.

Many fishermen, while accepting that fishing is dangerous, staunchly defend their independence. Many proposed laws and additional regulation to increase safety have been defeated because fishermen oppose them.[7]

Alaska's commercial fishermen work in one of the world's harshest environments. Many of the hardships they endure include isolated fishing grounds, high winds, seasonal darkness, very cold water, icing, and short fishing seasons, where very long work days are the norm. Fatigue, physical stress, and financial pressures face most Alaska fishermen through their careers. The hazardous work conditions faced by fishermen have a strong impact on their safety. Out of 948 work-related deaths that took place in Alaska during 1990-2006, one-third (311) occurred to fishermen. This is equivalent to an estimated annual fatality rate of 128/100,000 workers/year. This fatality rate is 26 times that of the overall U.S. work-related fatality rate of approximately 5/100,000 workers/year for the same time period.[8]

While the work-related fatality rate for commercial fishermen in Alaska is still very high, it does appear to be decreasing: since 1990, there has been a 51 percent decline in the annual fatality rate. The successes in commercial fishing are due in part to the U.S. Coast Guard implementing new safety requirements in the early 1990s. These safety requirements contributed to 96 percent of the commercial fishermen surviving vessel sinkings/capsisings in 2004, whereas in 1991, only 73 percent survived. While the number of occupational deaths in commercial fishermen in Alaska has been reduced, there is a continuing pattern of losing 20 to 40 vessels every year. There are still about 100 fishermen who must be rescued each year from cold Alaska waters. Successful rescue is still dependent on the expertly trained personnel of the US Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations, and such efforts can be hindered by the harshness of seas and the weather. Furthermore, the people involved in Search and Rescue operations are themselves at considerable risk for injury or death during these rescue attempts.[8]

Types of fishermen[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 45-3011 Fishers and Related Fishing Workers US Department of Labor
  2. ^ a b c d FAO: Fishing people. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  3. ^ Early humans followed the coast BBC News article.
  4. ^ Fisheries history
  5. ^ International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)
  6. ^ Matthew 4:19
  7. ^ a b FAO Profile for the USA
  8. ^ a b "NIOSH Commercial Fishing in Alaska". United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fields, Leslie Leyland (editor) (2002) Out On The Deep Blue: Women, Men, and the Oceans They Fish. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-27726-0
  • Jones, Stephen (2001) Working Thin Waters: Conversations with Captain * Lawrence H. Malloy, Jr. University Press of New England. ISBN 978-1-58465-103-1

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisherman — Please support Wikipedia.
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DESTIN, Fla. (AP) — Panhandle fisherman say they are seeing more and more super-sized sharks in the northern Gulf this spring. In Destin, Capt. Curt Gwin caught a 668-pound mako shark on April 10. On April 2, two men from Milton caught an 11-foot, ...
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NEW BEDFORD – The body of a Fairhaven fisherman was pulled up by divers Friday night, found 28 feet beneath the boat he was to set out on the previous morning. Joshua Greaves, 30, was last seen at a “downtown drinking establishment” around 1:30 ...
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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:31:26 -0700

Brentwood fisherman wins Alabama event. Mike Organ, morgan@tennessean.com 7:21 p.m. CDT April 16, 2014. bass.jpg. Smallmouth bass (Photo: Submitted ). SHARE 14 CONNECTTWEETCOMMENTEMAILMORE. Scott Brummett of Brentwood won the ...
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