Hook and Line Commercial Fishing

by Taylor Bovarnick, Virgil Wong, and Griffin Connolly

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Where It is Used

Hook and line commercial fishing is used to catch benthic, demersal, and pelagic fishes. It is a common practice in the Pacific Ocean in an economic zone off of Oregon, Washington, and California.
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How It Works/Types of Fish Caught

Hooks and lines are a fishing method using short lines as opposed to long lines. This method includes hand lines, hand reels, powered reels, rod/pole-and-line, drop lines, and troll lines. All of these use baits or some other kind of lure to catch the fishes attention. The hook and lines can either be from a stationary or moving boat. There are mechanisms that allow fewer people to operate more lines, which is ultimately more efficient for this commercial fishing practice. Specifically, pole-and-line or bait-boat fishing is a method that attracts schools of fish near the surface to the boat, where a lot of bait is thrown into the water. This makes them eat a lot and get caught because much of the bait has hooks attached. All of the fish that are caught are pulled on board with either manual or powered devices. There are two different types of hooks used in this method. There are J Hooks and C Hooks. The C Hook is more curved, thus resulting in a higher catch rate and a lower bycatch number. Both hooks can be barbed or unbarbed. This method is often used to catch surface schooling tuna, such as skipjack and albacore. Hook and line fishing targets a diverse group of fish, squid, and cuttle fish that can be either open-ocean swimmers or bottom dwellers.

Bycatch Number/Effects on the Ecosystem

This method of hook and line commercial fishing is thought to have minimal impact because it has a low bycatch number. In addition, unwanted fish can be quickly returned to the ocean to continue on with their lives. However, localized depletion of species can occur.


In terms of mitigating the effects, it is recommended that fishermen do not overfish in one specific area of the ocean to allow local populations to recuperate. This also protects against depletions of certain fish species that are caught using this method. Hook and line fishing is also used as recreational fishing, such as sporting. It is recommended that large fish that are caught should be released. Some people are concerned that the bay fish that they use to attract schools of fish to boats may be unsustainable. Overall, this method is very sustainable because it does not contribute anything bad to global warming. In terms of species diversity, hook and line fishing only targets species that are plentiful.
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Government Regulations

Certain states or countries have regulations on hook and line fishing from a minimum size of the fish caught to how many are allowed to be caught per day. Some species are limited to certain fishing seasons/possession seasons.
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What Would Happen if it Was Banned?

If hook and line fishing were banned as a method of commercial fishing, there would probably be an increase in unsustainable fishing as an alternative. This would have adverse effects on our marine ecosystems.

Blue Haven

Bill Ballantine fought for 12 years to protect two square miles of marine environment in a region off the coast of North Island, and the protection was finally put in place in 1977. This protection zone was not allowed to be interfered by humans, which meant no line fishing, no spearfishing, no hooking lobsters, no rock oysters, and no bothersome behavior. There were many underwater changes that took scientists by surprise in this area. Divers noticed that the seaweed became food for some species underwater. When fishing stopped, the imbalance between prey and their predators began reversing. The density of wildlife inside the reserve is much higher than that of the outside ocean (15 times higher). This change to becoming a marine reserve was revolutionary because it was one of the world's first no-take reserves. Because this first reserve was so successful, Ballantine tried for another one, but there were setbacks in the process for the Poor Knights Islands, off the Northland coast. This area has been rated one of the world's top subtropical diving sites, therefore it would be the perfect area to be reserved, but Ballantine had to compromise and say that commercial fishing would be banned, but recreational fishing for popular species of fish was allowed. Fish numbers began to decrease, so people realized the scale of the problem. According to National Geographic, "marine reserves are an antidote to this collective amnesia. They provide a scientific benchmark against which changes in the wider ocean-the exploited ocean-can be measured." New Zealand has been a leading country in marine protection. More recently, there have been signs of progress in other oceans of the world as well. For example, there have been separate reserves created with the establishment of protected-area networks. Australia's Great Barrier Reef just joined this. Although the oceans are being reserved in many ways and what people are doing to help the oceans is working, only 0.01% of the world's oceans do not allow fishing, which is a huge problem for conservation and fisheries.
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