How long do commercial fishing trips last?

The Intricacies of Commercial Fishing Trips

Now, let's have a little chat about commercial fishing trips. As a lad from Sydney who has nurtured a deep fascination for the ocean, I've always been drawn to the mysterious allure of deep-sea fishing. It's a thrilling yet arduous venture that requires a good dose of both patience and grit. But just how long do these voyages take? Well, that differs depending on a few crucial factors.

Fish don't operate on the same nine-to-five schedule that some of us land-lubbers do. They comprise a myriad population of underwater beings that move along their uncharted routes and timetables. Hence, it's the fish that set the calendar for commercial fishing expeditions. The length of these trips depends largely on the type of fish sought, the fishing methods used, geographical location, and the capacity of the fishing vessel.

The Influence of the Fish Species

Understanding fish behaviour is a crucial aspect of commercial fishing. For instance, some species are migratory, meaning they follow a designated path across wide expanses of water at specific times of the year. On these occasions, commercial fishing voyages may be prolonged, sometimes spanning several weeks or even months, in order to follow these migrating schools.

Let's take the mighty Tuna, for example. These streamlined swimmers are known to embark on epic underwater voyages, navigating through temperate to tropical waters in pursuit of food and potential mates. A commercial fishing operation targeting Tuna may take from few days to several weeks, dependent on the location and the size of the school targeted.

Fishing Methods and Their Time Frames

The method employed to catch fish plays a significant role in determining the length of a commercial fishing trip. Longlining, for instance, which involves setting a long line with baited hooks, often takes substantial time - sometimes weeks on end. This is due to the waiting period needed for fish to bite and the wide swathes of ocean covered.

On the other side of the spectrum, purse-seining, commonly used to capture Tuna, is quicker and more efficient. Fishermen circle their nets around a school of fish and haul them aboard within a matter of hours, meaning the trips can be shorter. However, the ordeal of spotting a school and encircling it with the net makes up for the quick capture.

The Role of Geography

The geographical location also plays an integral role in the duration of commercial fishing trips. Some areas are known for their rich biomass but are located at vast distances from ports. Thus, reaching such hotspots involves extended travelling times, leading to the journey being stretched over several weeks or months.

Near the home base, for instance, here in Australia, some fishing hotspots off the Great Barrier Reef require less travel time. However, travelling to the Southern Ocean for Patagonian Toothfish, a sought-after delicacy, necessitates venturing into colder, harsher climates, thereby extending the trip's length significantly.

Vessel Size and Capacity

The design and capabilities of the fishing vessel are pivotal when forecasting the duration of a commercial fishing trip. Larger ships equipped with modern machinery, storage facilities, and a big crew can stay out at sea for longer periods, sometimes up to six months.

By contrast, smaller vessels with limited storage and crew capacities are forced to return to port sooner. This is typically after a few days or weeks at most, primarily for resupply and to maintain the freshness of their catch.

Bringing it All Together

So, there you have it. The length of a commercial fishing trip can be as short as a few days or as long as six months, fluctuating based on the targeted species, fishing methodologies, geographic location, and the vessel's capacity.

In our case, Eliza and I once accompanied a friend on a short commercial fishing trip off the coast of New South Wales, targeting lovely Snapper. Fascinatingly, and much to our amusement, it was more a case of hurry up and wait. With all factors considered, our little Australian adventure lasted just over a week, but it sure provided us with some riveting stories to tell and a greater appreciation for the efforts bestowed on our seafood suppers.

In the end, commercial fishing is more than just a profession; it entails a way of life dictated by the sea's rhythm and its marine residents. And remember, even though fishing might seem like a waiting game, the fruits (or should I say, fish) of patience can be sublime indeed!