Fisherman. King of the sea

Being a fisherman. Hard work at sea.

Fishing is one of the oldest professions in the world. For many fishermen it is more a way of life, often passed down through generations, than a profession. Not only in films or literature you can meet people for whom the sea is as close as family.

The work of a fisherman and its results depend on weather conditions to a greater extent than in other professions. It is the weather that decides when to go fishing, the time spent on the fishing ground, and of course the number of fish caught.

Currently, fishermen go to sea about 100 times a year in good winds – in 2019, that's the average number of days active fishing boats spent fishing in the Baltic Sea (383 vessels in total).

It is up to the owner and the captain of a cutter to decide when the boat will go to sea. They check the weather and analyze the catches of other boats. The hours of departure to the sea are different. Most often, if the weather allows, the fishermen go out early in the morning, before dawn, between 3 and 4 o'clock. Then they have time to get to the fishing ground and prepare for fishing. Some captains go out to sea while the storm is still ending, to get to the fishing grounds as soon as possible and set the nets in the best places.

When the cutter arrives at the fishing spot, the netting begins. In case of gillnets, it takes from a few to even a dozen of hours. The nets are set in such a way, that they do not get tangled in water, because tangled nets do not catch fish. Preparing the nets on a cutter, which sweeps, that is pulls the nets behind it, is different. It takes only a few dozen minutes to release the net. A cutter with a trawling net is guided through the fishing ground by the captain. The success of such fishing depends largely on his experience intuition.

The fish along with the net are taken out on a special table. They are separated from the net and put into crates, and the net is carefully placed in bags. Collecting the nets is not the end of the work. Most fish, such as cod and salmon, must be gutted while still at sea. This is hard and tedious work, often taking up to a dozen hours. It is especially difficult in winter, when the weather is cold and the wind is strong. Fish, packed in crates, go to the hold. There they are covered with ice to keep them fresh longer. Fish from trawl fisheries are also sorted and stored in boxes under ice.

More and more vessels, especially large ones, use the so-called RSW system - fish are transported in tanks with seawater (properly cooled). Delivered in such a way, they keep their freshness and highest quality.

On average, fishing lasts from a dozen hours to five days. How long the fishermen go to sea for depends (besides the weather) on the size of the vessel and its speed, comfort, social conditions on the vessel and seaworthiness, i.e. safety at sea.

What do fishermen catch in the Baltic Sea?

In 2019, 146 thousand tonnes of fish were harvested from Baltic fisheries. This figure consists of 74.5 thousand tonnes of sprat, 40.7 thousand tonnes of herring, 16.7 thousand tonnes of flounder and 4.3 thousand tonnes of cod (as of July 2019, there is a ban on directed fishing for eastern cod). 

Seaports, harbors and places of offload

Poland has more than 70 designated ports, harbors and offloading places. Nearly half of these places are located on beaches.

The most important ports in terms of the amount of offloaded fish and the number of fishing boats served are: Kołobrzeg, Hel and Władysławowo.

Fishing ports along the Baltic Sea also perform seasonal services such as passenger transportation, excursions, recreational fishing, etc. Small ports and beach harbors are part of the cultural picture of the Baltic coast and are a tourist attraction.

Is fisherman a profession? The people involved say that it's rather genes. It is something that fishermen have had in their blood for generations. And no matter how much they want to get rid of fishing, it is impossible.

Boat, cutter or maybe a trawler. What can you fish on in the Baltic Sea?

Fishing boat – a fishing vessel of not more than 15 m in length.

Fish cutter – small fishing vessel, the smallest fishing craft. Cutters are divided into small (13-15 m long), medium (up to 17 m), and supercutters (up to 24 m). They may be wooden (in decline), steel, or laminate. Powered usually by an internal combustion engine up to 400 hp, formerly driven by sails up to 45 square meters.

Trawler – a fishing vessel adapted for catching groundfish by means of bottom trawls and pelagic trawls (for catching in the depths) towed behind the vessel. Those built in Poland are mainly: trawlers, processing trawlers and freezer trawlers.

Trawlers have a powerful engine, a large diameter propeller and a strong hull structure. Despite their relatively small size, they are allowed to sail unrestricted. Fish can be caught from the trawler the old way from the side or the newer way from the stern.


What do you fish with in the Baltic Sea?

The fishing net has meshes that are adapted to the size and shape of the fish being caught. TTypes of nets: towed nets and fixed nets. Nets can also be divided into: passive – drifting or at anchor (e.g. fixed nets) i active – fish are captured while moving (e.g. towed nets – trawls, tucks, seines, encircling)

The work of a fisherman: how, where, with what?

Multimedia exhibition for young and adults.

In an extremely interesting and interactive way it presents the work of a fisherman: from the construction of the boat and fishing boats (boatbuilding), through fishing techniques and types of nets, work at sea and in the bay, to the unloading and processing of fish in the port.

Guests can even take on the role of a captain while driving a fishing boat on a multimedia simulator!

Where: MERK Centre for Promotion and Education. Władysławowo, 15 Portowa St.
Tickets: 4–6 zł, children up to 7 years – free entry

More information on MERK's Facebook page.


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