Monday, 6 July 2009

Seine fishing

Seine fishing must have been one of the most arduous of ways to make a living out of rowing. The seine net was a gigantic curtain that was wrapped round a shoal, the net being held up by floats at the top and held down by lead weights at the bottom. When the whole shoal was in the net, it was dragged bodily into shallow water so the fish could be transfered into boats and taken ashore.
In the old days, the net would be carried out on a seine boat rowed by six oarsmen and steered with another oar. The boat would row round a shoal directed by a 'huer' on a tall building or cliff ashore, yelling through a megaphone.
Seine fishing for pilchards off the Lizard in Cornwall is vividly described by James Cliff at the brilliant St Keverne Local History site.
It could be another universe. Today, seine fishing boats are huge diesel jobs that can haul the net and catch bodily out of the water and into the fish hold.
Smaller seine fishing boats used in estuaries are still raced with enthusiasm in two places in the world, however - more on that later.

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