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The great trawling fleet that built up at Brixham, earned the village the title of 'Mother of Deep-Sea Fisheries'. This revolutionary design made large scale trawling in the ocean possible for the first time, resulting in a massive migration of fishermen from the ports in the South of England, to villages further north, such as Scarborough , Hull , Grimsby , Harwich and Yarmouth , that were points of access to the large fishing grounds in the Atlantic Ocean.

The small village of Grimsby grew to become the 'largest fishing port in the world' [36] by the mid 19th century. An Act of Parliament was first obtained in , which authorised the construction of new quays and dredging of the Haven to make it deeper. The foundation stone for the Royal Dock was laid by Albert the Prince consort in The elegant Brixham trawler spread across the world, influencing fishing fleets everywhere. Their distinctive sails inspired the song Red Sails in the Sunset , written aboard a Brixham sailing trawler called the Torbay Lass.

These trawlers were sold to fishermen around Europe, including from Holland and Scandinavia. Twelve trawlers went on to form the nucleus of the German fishing fleet. Although fishing vessel designed increasingly began to converge around the world, local conditions still often led the development of different types of fishing boats. The Manx nobby was used around the Isle of Man as a herring drifter. The fifie was also used as a herring drifter along the east coast of Scotland from the s until well into the 20th century.

The bawley and the smack were used in the Thames Estuary and off East Anglia , while trawlers and drifters were used on the east coast. Herring fishing started in the Moray Firth in The peak of the fishing at Aberdeen was in with steam trawlers, though the first diesel drifter was introduced in In paddle tugs were being used to tow luggers and smacks to sea. The earliest steam powered fishing boats first appeared in the s and used the trawl system of fishing as well as lines and drift nets. The earliest purpose built fishing vessels were designed and made by David Allan in Leith in March , when he converted a drifter to steam power.

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In , he built the first screw propelled steam trawler in the world. This vessel was Pioneer LH She was of wooden construction with two masts and carried a gaff rigged main and mizen using booms, and a single foresail. Pioneer is mentioned in The Shetland Times of 4 May In he completed Forward and Onward , steam-powered trawlers for sale. Allan argued that his motivation for steam power was to increase the safety of fishermen.


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However local fishermen saw power trawling as a threat. Allan built a total of ten boats at Leith between and Twenty-one boats were completed at Granton , his last vessel being Degrave in The first steam boats were made of wood, but steel hulls were soon introduced and were divided into watertight compartments.

They were well designed for the crew with a large building that contained the wheelhouse and the deckhouse. The boats built in the 20th century only had a mizzen sail , which was used to help steady the boat when its nets were out. The main function of the mast was now as a crane for lifting the catch ashore. It also had a steam capstan on the foredeck near the mast for hauling nets.


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  • The boats had narrow, high funnels so that the steam and thick coal smoke was released high above the deck and away from the fishermen. These funnels were nicknamed woodbines because they looked like the popular brand of cigarette. These boats had a crew of twelve made up of a skipper , driver, fireman to look after the boiler and nine deck hands.

    Steam fishing boats had many advantages. This was important, as the market was growing quickly at the beginning of the 20th century.

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    They could travel faster and further and with greater freedom from weather , wind and tide. Because less time was spent travelling to and from the fishing grounds, more time could be spent fishing. The steam boats also gained the highest prices for their fish, as they could return quickly to harbour with their fresh catch.

    The main disadvantage of the steam boats, though, was their high operating costs.

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    Their engines were mechanically inefficient and took up much space, while fuel and fitting out costs were very high. To cover these high costs, they needed to fish for longer seasons. The higher expenses meant that more steam drifters were company-owned or jointly owned.

    As the herring fishing industry declined, steam boats became too expensive. Steam trawlers were introduced at Grimsby and Hull in the s. In it was estimated that there were 20, men on the North Sea. The steam drifter was not used in the herring fishery until The last sailing fishing trawler was built in in Grimsby. Trawler designs adapted as the way they were powered changed from sail to coal-fired steam by World War I to diesel and turbines by the end of World War II.

    During both World Wars, many fishing trawlers were commissioned as naval trawlers. Fishing trawlers were particularly suited for many naval requirements because they were robust boats designed to work heavy trawls in all types of weather and had large clear working decks. One could create a mine sweeper simply by replacing the trawl with a mine sweep.

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    The Royal Navy ordered many naval trawlers to Admiralty specifications. Shipyards such as Smiths Dock Company that were used to building fishing trawlers could easily switch to constructing naval versions. As a bonus, the Admiralty could sell these trawlers to commercial fishing interests when the wars ended.

    Armed trawlers were also used to defend fishing groups from enemy aircraft or submarines. The smallest civilian trawlers were converted to danlayers. In , the first powered drum was created by Laurie Jarelainen. The drum was a circular device that was set to the side of the boat and would draw in the nets.

    The powered drum allowed the nets to be drawn in much faster, so fishermen were able to fish in areas they had previously been unable to go into, thereby revolutionizing the fishing industry. During World War II , navigation and communication devices, as well as many other forms of maritime equipment depth-sounding and radar were improved and made more compact.

    These devices became much more accessible to the average fisherman, thus making their range and mobility larger.


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    • It also served to make the industry much more competitive, as the fisherman were forced to invest more into their boats, equipped with electronic aids, such as radio navigation aids and fish finders. During the Cold War , some countries fitted fishing trawlers with additional electronic gear so they could be used as spy ships to monitor the activities of other countries. The first trawlers fished over the side, rather than over the stern. The first purpose built stern trawler was Fairtry built in at Aberdeen. The ship was much larger than any other trawlers then in operation and inaugurated the era of the 'super trawler'.

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      As the ship pulled its nets over the stern, it could lift out a much greater haul of up to 60 tons. Lord Nelson followed in , installed with vertical plate freezers that had been researched and built at the Torry Research Station. These ships served as a basis for the expansion of 'super trawlers' around the world in the following decades. The introduction of fine synthetic fibres such as nylon in the construction of fishing gear during the s marked an expansion in the commercial use of gillnets. The new materials were cheaper and easier to handle, lasted longer and required less maintenance than natural fibres.

      In addition, fibres such as nylon monofilaments become almost invisible in water, so nets made with synthetic twines generally caught greater numbers of fish than natural fibre nets used in comparable situations. The early evolution of fishing as recreation is not clear. But for the early Japanese and Macedonians , fly fishing was likely to have been a means of survival, rather than recreation.

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      It is possible that antecedents of recreational fly fishing arrived in England with the Norman conquest of The earliest English essay on recreational fishing was published in , shortly after the invention of the printing press. The essay was titled Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle , [47] and was published in the second Boke of Saint Albans , a treatise on hawking, hunting, and heraldry. These were major interests of the nobility, and the publisher, Wynkyn de Worde , was concerned that the book should be kept from those who were not gentlemen, since their immoderation in angling might "utterly destroy it".

      During the 16th century the work was much read, and was reprinted many times. Treatyse includes detailed information on fishing waters, the construction of rods and lines, and the use of natural baits and artificial flies. It also includes modern concerns about conservation and angler etiquette. The earliest English poetical treatise on Angling by John Dennys , said to have been a fishing companion of Shakespeare, was published in , The Secrets of Angling.