When Fishing Started: The History of Fishing



Fishing is a business and pleasure that emerged as a source of livelihood in the past and is now also a source of livelihood and a hobby. The basis of fisheries is that all kinds of fish living in the waters are caught, raised, and commercialized. The hand-holding method in fishing has been abandoned and today the method of fishing with high technology structures has been adopted. In this way, there are opportunities to catch more fish with large nets and different methods. So do you think when fishing started?



The history of fishing is as old as human history. Fish, which were among the natural prey of the first humans, were hunted with pointed spears or hand-held methods. Of course, with developing technology, new fishing methods have also developed and become easier. If we look at the history of fish farming, we can see that fish production started in Egypt and China in the 2000s BC. Let’s take a look at the history of fishing together.

The Brief History of Fishing


Primitive peoples living on the banks of seas, lakes, or streams observed and learned how other living species hunted in the waters. Primitive peoples did not yet know agriculture and obtained the nutrients they needed simply from animals they could hunt with their hunting gear and from the fruits and plants they gathered. For primitive people, fish consisted of catching by hand. Later, it was understood from the findings that the people of the Neolithic period reached a point further than the people of the previous period and that they made harpoons and gauntlets made of stone and wood, fishing rods from tree and thorn branches, harpoon ends, and fishing pins from bones to be used in fishing and animal aquaculture.

According to the first period, the only hunting tool known in the Paleolithic period was the harpoon, as opposed to the hand and foot fishing. Harpoons, an advanced stage, were made of pointed bones and spines fixed to the end of a pole. Later, in narrow waters, they found easy fishing methods by cutting the path of fish with natural materials and preventing them from escaping by squeezing and blocking. We can say that this method formed the first form of fish ponds. Because of the difficulty of transporting these barriers, which were made of stone, rock, and soil at first, it later led to the use of barricades obtained by connecting long poles and canes. It has formed the primitive form of today’s fish ponds. The various baskets and fyke nets are the same in origin.



In the early periods, the people of the Neolithic period, who understood the importance of fishing by entering the water in the coastal or shallow waters, and with the idea of ​​hunting further away, made it by making simple boats on the trees in later periods. Primitive harpoons and fishing rods were also found among some boat remains belonging to that period. When the waters of a Lake in a district of Turkey receded due to drought in recent years, one of the oldest boats in the world emerged and was taken under protection by the Underwater Archeology Museum. The boat, which was determined to be at least 2600 years old, is 4.5 meters long, 65 centimeters wide, weighs one ton, and is made of chestnut wood.

The first written sources of fishing are the descriptions and inscriptions of corn from 2000 BC. In these sources, the net shapes that are thought to have been used by the Egyptian fishermen since 3000 BC are mentioned, and the description of the mentioned nets is understood to be the first form of today’s seine nets called a trawl. In Chinese sources and descriptions, ruins and finds belonging to very ancient times have been found in the Central Asian Aral basin. It is known that some equipment was used for hunting shelled mollusks during the Phoenicians and Romans in Anatolia. In the post-Christ periods, fishery attracted the attention of the societies living on the seashore in terms of food. Although fish did not make a commercial sense in the early days, this situation changed in the following periods.

Historical Timeline of Fishing


Fishing is the hunting of fish and other sea creatures by various methods in seas, lakes, and rivers. In addition to fish, fishing includes the fishing of mussels, shrimp, lobster, hermit crab, oysters, octopus, and even marine mammals such as whales. The production of fish and other marine animals in ponds, pools, or artificial facilities in the seas is also part of fishing. Water areas cover approximately 71 percent of the earth. Most of these areas are suitable for many different aquatic creatures.



These creatures show a wide distribution from single-celled to mammals. People benefit from aquatic creatures, especially fish, as a food source. Although aquaculture production started to be talked about in the world in the 1960s, its real application is almost as old as human history. If we take a brief look at the history of world aquaculture:

In 2000 BC, carp production in China and tilapia production in Egypt started. This breeding was not carried out as modern production as can be expected, but by fattening the juvenile fish collected from nature.

It is known that people have been fishing since the earliest times. Needles made of bone dating back 5 thousand years ago and similar to the examples used today have been found.

The Chinese were breeding mullets around 3000 BC in saltwater frozen ponds.

Ancient Romans also raised carp and freshwater mullet in ponds and aquariums.

Traces of oyster cultivation are found in Greece in 600 BC. In the 15th century, aquaculture production started in Italy by catching and breeding fish entering brackish waters.

In the 18th century, the first production intervention started with the application of artificial insemination on salmon.

In the 19th century, salmon were first transplanted and oyster cultivation started.



In 1960, the first eel farming began in Japan. In 1960, rainbow trout production exploded in Europe and North America.

In 1970, the use of marine areas began with the trials of yellowtail and catfish production.

In 1980, modern aquaculture started with the development of salmon, shrimp, sea bream, and sea bass production techniques.

In 1990, studies were started on turbot, sturgeon, Laos, and tropical sea bass.

In the 2000s, that is, today, new species and production trials of these species, as well as the necessary infrastructure studies are carried out in order to produce the species produced in more economical dimensions. Among these, genetic studies, studies to increase the resistance of the body, vaccine, stock control studies, feed feeding studies and environmental studies are carried out.

History of Amateur Fishing


The first major development period in amateur fishing coincides with the mid-17th century when Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton wrote The Compleat Angler, a great classic of amateur fishing. In this period, an unknown angler put a wire loop at the very end of the reed and introduced a new method of fishing. In this way, the fishing rod can be thrown further, and the hunted person gives way to the fish with the fishing line passing through the loop and then the fish was tiring by pulling the fishing line. The fishing line passing through the noose at the end of the rod was free and was used by hand. This method led to a need, namely the invention of the spinning wheel machine.

In this period, as a result of the experiments made to find hunting material, the use of intestines and thin wire in the fishing line started. Gaiters, which allow the big fish caught on the fishing line to be taken into one, were first used in 1667. The improved shapes of fish needles were designed by Charles Kirby in the 1650s and the curvature of these needles, which are widely used all over the world today, is called Kirby. The first machine consisted of a wooden reel with a metal ring the width of the thumb of the user. In 1770, rods were widely used, with wire loops and spools guiding the fishing line at various intervals. The first real machine geared to the lower part of the reed was a gear, achieving several revolutions with one turn of its handle.



The straws, on the other hand, were made of straight-grained, durable, flexible wood and bamboo from South America and the Antilles, instead of heavy local wood. At the end of the 18th century, a new technique was developed and the production of cane was started by gluing and gluing bamboo strips together. This formula greatly reduces the thickness of the reed while maintaining its strength and flexibility. Between 1865 and 1870, six triangular bamboo strips were glued and put together and hexagonal canes were produced on both sides of the Atlantic. From 1880, the design of fishing gear developed rapidly. Silk covered with oxidized linseed oil replaced the horsehair used as a fishing line.

If such fishing rods were not oiled, they could easily be thrown with a straw and sink to the bottom, and if they were oiled, they would float in the water. Even an inexperienced amateur fisherman could throw this type of fishing line three times further than normal. In the 20th century, reeds became shorter and lighter without losing any of their strength, largely replacing fragmented bamboo as the reed material with glass fiber and finally carbon fiber. Since the 1930s, roller fixed machines were adopted and used in Europe and after World War II in North America and many parts of the world. The use of nylon in fishing lines was developed towards the end of the 1930s and after World War II, like other synthetic materials, it became a fishing rod.

Fishing From Yesterday to Today


An average of 145 million tons of aquaculture is produced annually in the world, and approximately 45 million tons of this is obtained by aquaculture. There is a growth of more than 10 percent per year. However, it is estimated that by 2030, the amount obtained from aquaculture in the world will double and exceed 80 million tons. Water areas cover approximately 71 percent of the earth. Most of these areas are suitable for many different aquatic creatures. These creatures show a wide distribution from single-celled to mammals. People benefit from aquatic creatures, especially fish, as a food source.

The real application of aquaculture production is almost as old as human history. If we take a brief look at the history of world aquaculture; In 2000 BC, carp production in China and tilapia production in Egypt started. This breeding was not carried out as modern production as can be expected, but by fattening the juvenile fish collected from nature. Traces of oyster cultivation are found in Greece in 600 BC. In the 15th century, aquaculture production started in Italy by catching and breeding fish entering brackish waters. In the 18th century, the first production intervention started with the application of artificial insemination on salmon. In the 19th century, salmon were first transplanted and oyster cultivation started. In 1960, the first eel farming began in Japan.



In 1960, rainbow trout production exploded in Europe and North America. In 1970, the use of marine areas began with yellowtail and catfish breeding trials. In 1980, modern aquaculture started with the development of salmon, shrimp, sea bream, and sea bass production techniques. In 1990, studies were started on turbot, sturgeon, and tropical sea bass. In 2000, that is, today, new species and production trials of these species, as well as the necessary infrastructure studies are carried out in order to produce the species produced in more economical dimensions. Among these, genetic studies, vaccines, and studies aimed at increasing the resistance of the body, stock control studies, feed, feeding studies, and environmental studies are done.

Fishing and Health


Today, aquaculture appears as a rapidly developing production branch all over the world. Despite the increasing demand, the lack of a regular increase in fisheries has made aquaculture more attractive. Aquaculture has been identified as the fastest-growing food sector in the world by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). The increasing population is increasing the demand for fresh fish day by day. There should be no doubt that in the face of today’s population growth, aquaculture will be the only way to overcome the protein shortage the world has fallen into. Interest in seafood is increasing in the world, especially due to its importance in healthy nutrition. With the increasing interest, it is seen that the efforts to develop the seafood processing industry have an increasing trend compared to the past.

Many kinds of seafood are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals for human nutrition. Among the protein sources, seafood with high digestibility is very low in terms of fat compared to other high protein foods. In addition, aquaculture is the only source of n-3 series polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids with proven health benefits. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the two predominant omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, are recommended for their beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure. Annual consumption per capita in EU member countries is around 16-20 kg. It is known that the world aquaculture consumption is 15 kg per person and 22 kg in EU countries. With the incentives of the government, enterprises should be supported in order to increase the consumption of fish, especially those containing EPA and DHA (omega 3), which are known to be very beneficial to health.



First of all, high VAT emerges as an important problem in the sector. Although the low VAT rate is applied to the fish product that is considered as a staple food all over the world, the biggest factor in the decrease in fish consumption in some countries is the high VAT and tax rates. In such countries, fish cannot be considered as a staple food and the high VAT rate of 8 percent increases sales prices and this plays a restrictive role in consumption. In this respect, the VAT rate should be reduced to 1 percent and every segment of the society should be able to consume this healthy food. In addition, abundant and effective advertising and promotion groups should be supported. This situation reveals that the health benefits of fishery products should be better promoted through abundant advertisements or promotional programs.

Aquaculture is a basic industry that meets a significant part of the world’s nutritional needs. It has been determined by FAO as the fastest-growing food sector in the world. While the amount of aquaculture produced by aquaculture in the world was 7.4 million tons in 1980, it reached 16.8 million tons in 1990, 40 million tons in 2002, and 45 million tons in 2008. Aquaculture meets approximately 30 percent of world fisheries production and grows by more than 10 percent annually. An average of 145 million tons of aquaculture is produced annually in the world, and approximately 45 million tons of this is obtained by aquaculture. There is a growth of more than 10 percent per year. However, it is estimated that by 2030, the amount obtained from aquaculture in the world will double and exceed 80 million tons.



90 percent of the aquaculture production in the world is made by Asian countries. China is a country that has a say in both hunting and aquaculture. The United States of America is the fourth exporter country and the second important importer in the world in the aquaculture industry. The most acquired fishery products in EU countries are sprat, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and shellfish. Aquaculture, on the other hand, concentrated mostly on the production of trout, salmon, mussels, oysters, sea bass, bream, and turbot. The EU exported 1.6 million tons of fishery products in 2001 and imported 4.4 million tons in the same period. This situation gives clues about the EU’s aquaculture potential.

Fish Farming


The environment is an important factor in aquaculture. Properties such as water temperature, salinity, bacterial factors in its content, light transmittance, color, rotten substance content, acid-base level, hardness are the primary factors limiting production and should be considered first in aquaculture. With the cage system, animal wastes and feed residues accumulate at the bottom of the cage in fish farming. When these residues are not cleaned, they cause both the pollution of the sea and the unhealthy fish grown. Studies on new species that have the potential for improvement in aquaculture should also be emphasized.

In order to increase the productivity of the enterprises, it should be obligatory to employ technical staff trained in fisheries from a certain capacity. It should be ensured that plans that will allow the conservation of fisheries stocks, their rational management, and sustainable fishing should be made, and natural environments should be protected in new plans. Measures to increase domestic consumption demand should be taken, fish sales points should be made suitable in terms of technical and hygienic conditions, fisheries processing and evaluation facilities should be expanded and support for aquaculture should be continued. The biggest complaint of the enterprises that process seafood and especially market products abroad is that they find that the raw material lacks hygienic and carries an excessive bacterial load.



The idea of ​​”the customer does not buy fish sold on ice”, which has been ongoing for years, is widely applied today. However, it is known that sales with ice or other cooling systems in the form of marketing, which is sold in supermarkets and encouraged by the Ministry, is demanded by consumers. Classification, crating, not using wooden crates, placing frozen or chilled landing on ships before they are taken ashore; sales must be carried out in computer-equipped sales points, loaded on refrigerated trucks in an environment where continuous monitoring is carried out on moving conveyors and transported under appropriate refrigerated conditions.

Health Problems in Aquaculture


Infectious and parasitic fish diseases cause both economic and ecological problems. 10-20 percent of economic losses in aquaculture are caused by diseases. European Union countries have been monitoring fish diseases for many years and have introduced very heavy legal regulations to protect their existing stocks. Member countries have regulated their national laws in order to protect against diseases that may come from outside and to ensure the free circulation of aquatic animals and their products within the EU, ensuring the harmonization of the relevant legislation within the union. Council Directive 91/67 / EEC regulates the marketing of aquatic animals and their products. Since the health status of aquatic animals is not the same in all regions of the EU, in order to protect them from the spread of infectious diseases;

  • Important diseases identified
  • Zones have been created for the control and eradication of diseases
  • Rules for placing aquatic animals and their products on the market within the EU have been determined.
  • Protective measures have been taken at the union level for the import of aquatic animals and their products from third countries.

The 91/67 / EEC European Union Fish Disease List is as follows:

  • The diseases included in List I are those that are exotic for EU countries and are subject to a mandatory eradication program in any epidemic.
  • The diseases included in List II are the diseases that are found in EU countries and tried to be controlled by determining approved and unapproved regions.
  • List III diseases are diseases for which EU countries can organize their own control programs.


In order to prevent the adverse effects caused by diseases, the European Union (EU) has put into effect the necessary legal arrangements for fish health control with the name “EU health regime” and the “91/67 / EEC number” regulation. Within the scope of this regulation, it is obligatory to inspect fish enterprises periodically, thus it is aimed to create belts free from fish diseases.

Inadequate sample flow from the field to the laboratory, the fish samples sent do not comply with the conditions of sending fish material, the fish samples requested for Fish Disease Monitoring Studies are not sent in the number and time specified by the laboratory, the enterprises do not want to give samples for the bivalve mollusk and fish disease monitoring studies, Failure to fill in or contain insufficient information on anamnesis information forms, which should be sent with samples and are intended for epidemiological data collection, improper treatment of fish diseases in the field or the use of unlicensed antibiotics, low employment of veterinarians, including large fish farms, constitute an obstacle to the identification and prevention of diseases.

Taking measures to prevent the use of unlicensed vaccines and antibiotics in the field, spreading in-service training seminars on fish diseases throughout the country, establishing a Department of Fisheries Diseases in Veterinary Faculties in this direction, raising students who receive veterinary medicine in a responsible and knowledgeable way are important in terms of developing services that will respond to aquatic animal diseases.

Ancient Fishing Techniques


Fishing is a sport of catching fish in fresh or saltwater. Just like hunting, the source of fishing is the necessity to find food to survive. However, fishing as a sport and a hobby also date back to ancient times. There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians hunted with fishing lines, fishing lines, and net in the 2000s BC. According to Chinese sources, it is recorded that in the fourth century B.C., Chinese fishermen used cooked rice grains as fish feed and used fishing lines made of silk, fishing hooks made of crochet, fishing rods made of bamboo wood, and fished in ways very similar to today’s fishing. Similar information about fishing can be found in ancient Greek, Assyrian, Roman, and Jewish sources.



Although the increasing human population puts pressure on seas and rivers today, sportive fishing remains one of the most popular outdoor activities. In fact, when we litter the problems faced by modern fishermen with past anglers, we realize that nothing has changed. Where do we find fish and how do we keep it. For this reason, an amateur angler must have information about the speed of the wind, weather conditions, and current.

  • Early Fishing History

It has been proven by scientific studies that the species with modern human anatomy called Homo sapiens has been providing food from the sea for approximately 164000 years. In other words, the fishing adventure of the human race dates back to ancient times. In excavations in caves in South Africa, evidence has been found to prove that humans feed on shellfish. The earliest evidence that humans ate on shallow water fish dates back to 140000 years ago. Although simple fishing activities date back to very old times, the use of more complex fishing gear dates back much later. For example, the oldest known fishing pin was found in caves in East Timur, South East Asia, and it was found that it was produced in 40000 BC.

The similarity of fishing equipment used in the periods of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Egyptians is described in the records of the eighth century BC Homer and the first century BC Gaius Pliny Secundus (Pliny the Elder). In addition, Ovidius in the first century AD and Oppianos in the second century AD recorded fishing techniques and sea creatures in their records. In fact, these studies are described in such detail that surprising details such as the intelligence of dolphins and the migration of rhinos have not been missed.

These texts also provide informative information on how some fishing methods, which are discussed today, began to develop. In the texts of Oppianos and Gaius Plinius Secundus, it is explained how the operations called FAD in English, which were used to attract the attention of fish to a certain region, started. In ancient times, these processes started with the methods such as baskets hanging down to the sea or the excessive feeding of certain regions and attracting the fish to these regions, and evolved into methods such as driving the fish to the nets thanks to the poisons obtained from the root of rabbit ears. Today, this process continues as a hunting method with dynamite or cyanide.



  • Fishing in Antiquity

In the writings of Oppianos, it is stated that the fishermen got help from some sea creatures during fishing in ancient times. In some cities, fishermen who wait in shallow waters with nets and spears are said to train their dolphins to drive the fish into shallow water. In return, it was mentioned that dolphins were given some of the fish caught as a reward and bread puree dipped in wine. Today, while these methods continue in Brazil, it is known that in some Asian countries, cormorants and otters are helped during fishing activities.

One of the most interesting of all these magical fishing techniques has been found in New Guinea seas. New Guinean fishermen used spiders to weave webs for themselves from spider webs. They placed wooden frames in the areas where the spiders lived and enabled the spiders to weave their webs into these frames. This is the first example of the type of fishing known as kite fishing today.

  • Medieval Fishing Techniques and History

When we look at the ancient fishing techniques described above, it is an indisputable fact that today’s industrial fishing activities are rapidly dragging us towards unsustainable fishing. However, the problem of fish extinction was a problem that people faced in the middle ages. It has been proven that especially with the use of rivers for irrigation, freshwater fish faced the problem of extinction and this situation continued the fishermen to sea fishing. In order to develop sustainable fisheries, it is necessary to develop a fishery systematic in which not only the fish but the whole ecosystem in which the fish live is protected. Otherwise, it will be impossible to pass this joyful hobby to future generations.

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Savaş Ateş

When I was a kid I had a small aquarium in our home. I had different kinds of fishes. I like fishes. Then I started to research all kinds of fishes and fishing too. I read lots of books about them. I like to share my experiences.

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