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What is the Fishing Industry?

Keith Koons
Keith Koons

The fishing industry involves catching, preparing and selling fish for consumer use. This industry starts with the fishermen out at sea on commercial fishing boats, but would also include the landlocked countries that grow their own fish cultures for a means of harvesting. The catches are then sent for further processing and packaging, which would include separating the processed fillets and other pieces so they could be sent to a number of different industries. Finally, the finished product is transported to seafood markets and manufacturers around the world, where the products of the fishing industry meet the actual consumers.

The industry has experienced a number of advances in science that increase the overall fishing yield. Today’s fishing trawlers are a far cry from the humble boats that our ancestors were accustomed to using, and deep-sea fishing no longer relies on luck to rake in the biggest catch. Many ships are equipped with fish attraction devices that draw fish into the vicinity of the fishing vessel, and once the fish are within range, a purse seine net is usually employed to draw the catch in. Although deep-sea fishing is by and large the largest source of the world’s seafood, many countries have also begun experimenting with fish harvesting, a production technique that makes aquaculture far more eco-friendly.

An Atlantic salmon.
An Atlantic salmon.

Once a catch has been secured, it is usually processed for distribution as quickly as possible. Fish processing can be categorized into fish handling, in which the raw fish is just cleaned and cut, and fish product manufacturing, the preparation of intensively processed goods liked canned tuna, pet food, and other byproducts. Some fishing industry giants have factory ships that process seafood at sea and bring the processed product back to land for packaging, while others bring the catch back to the land to process and package in traditional brick-and-mortar factories.

A fish entree.
A fish entree.

Ultimately, the goal of both approaches to fish processing is to prepare the catch for the market, be it a wholesale seafood market, retail outlet, or a business that uses leftover fish products as fillers. After seafood has been processed and packaged, each company must then transport the product to its final destination. Transportation of fish or processed fish products is one of the fish industry’s most complicated challenges since seafood products must be kept at below-average temperature to ensure that they are fresh.

With new technologies, deep-sea fishing no longer relies on luck to rake in large catches.
With new technologies, deep-sea fishing no longer relies on luck to rake in large catches.

To complicate matters, different types of seafood have different refrigeration requirements, making mixed consignments a logistical nightmare. High-end restaurants, the fish industry’s most prized consumers since it offers the greatest payout, often have additional transportation requirements. Sushi restaurants, for example, sometimes insist that their fish is delivered live, which is truly a delicate transportation task within the fishing industry.

Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - Unfortunately, it's very difficult to predict what will happen when you start messing around with nature. There are a lot of success stories, but they are usually when we simply do what we should have done in the first place. Like salmon spawning in the rivers of America. They were prevented from doing this for a long time because of so many dams blocking the way. These days they can start to repopulate because the dams are being torn down, or fish ladders are being placed in them.


@pastanaga - Actually, I read about the cod issue when I was at university and they think it might be making a comeback, although the commercial fishing industry is already taking advantage of that, so who knows. The theory was that its position in the food chain was taken by other types of fish taking advantage of the absence of cod and that they were so successful that they prevented young cod from multiplying again.

I wonder if it would help to put a bounty on the fish that supplanted the cod, in order to help them regain traction.


Unfortunately, there have been too many advances in the fishing industry and it has led to a lot of over-fishing and collateral damage among fish stocks. I know a lot of people need to be fed and a lot of people need the money from fishing industry jobs, but sometimes I feel like we are eventually going to get to a point where fish ends up being a luxury product rather than something we all eat on a regular basis.

The oceans are under enough strain without us taking massive amounts of fish out of them as well. And it's not like this hasn't happened in several places already. The cod in Canada for example, have never recovered from severe over-fishing and that was even with a complete ban for several years. Once a species reaches a point of no return, we end up losing it forever.

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    • An Atlantic salmon.
      By: Witold Krasowski
      An Atlantic salmon.
    • A fish entree.
      By: FOOD-pictures
      A fish entree.
    • With new technologies, deep-sea fishing no longer relies on luck to rake in large catches.
      By: cybercrisi
      With new technologies, deep-sea fishing no longer relies on luck to rake in large catches.