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Simple Guide to Fishing Methods

Photo: Colin Clark

Land your catch by mastering the methods of the ocean. 

Wild-catch techniques don't necessarily indicate sustainability—it varies, depending on the kind of fish and where it's caught. Visit seafoodwatch.org to see what methods are best for your fish, and then ask your retailer for details before you buy.

  • Longline: Fishing line with baited hooks that can run 50 miles. Shallow lines can hook birds or endangered species.
  • Jigging: A type of hand-catch. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch says the species-targeted method reduces bycatch.
  • Purse Seine: Net walls that surround fish schools, then pull closed like a purse. Can also enclose bycatch.
  • Bottom Trawl: Fish net dragged along the ocean floor. Can sometimes harm seabed habitat and snare bycatch.
  • Trolling: A hook-and-line approach. Baited lines move behind or alongside the boat, which helps avoid bycatch.
  • Dragging/Dredging: Metal baskets scrape the seafloor for shellfish. Often disturbs habitats and gathers bottom-feeding bycatch.