The Fleet

The Canadian fish harvesting fleet consists of approximately 20,100 vessels. Small and medium sized vessels make up a majority of the fleet.

Fleet Breakdown

Small-Medium <45' Large >45' Total
Atlantic 16,200 1,000 17,200
Pacific 2,400 500 2,900

Most boats are owner-operated, while the crew number varies depending on equipment and type of catch; small and medium sized vessels have approximately three people aboard. Small and medium sized vessels, most often made of fibreglass, wood or aluminum, make up the majority of the fleet while vessels 100 feet long or more are made of steel and are relatively few in number. Most of these vessels are controlled by larger corporate-owned enterprises.

Fishing Gear

Gear types vary widely. Some rest in the water to catch fish in a “passive” fashion, others are towed to catch them in a “mobile” fashion. Popular gear types include:

  • Hook and line, including hand-lines and jiggers, longlines with baited hooks, and hooks towed through the water in trolling;
  • Nets, including gillnets, trawls, and seines;
  • Traps, such as the well-known lobster trap.

Fishing Trips

Commercial fishing trips can last anywhere from a single day to weeks, depending on the area and species being fished. On the Atlantic coast for example, vessels may spend long stretches on the offshore Grand Banks or the northern waters of Baffin Bay. Even when fishing closer to shore, vessels may leave home port for long periods, as when salmon trollers range the coast of British Columbia.