The longline itself is a cable that is strung with multiple hooks and laid out in the sea. These cables can be up to 50 miles long, with hundreds of hooks; industrial fishing boats in the Bering Sea run out longlines with more than 2,000 hooks.
Pelagic longlines, which are strung out near the surface, are meant to catch pelagic fish such as swordfish and tuna.
Demersal longlines are strung out along or near the sea bottom. They are meant to catch bottom-dwelling fish such as halibut and cod.
Both pelagic and demersal longlines are floated by a network of buoys. A cable runs from the buoys to the line bearing the hooks, and the line's depth is determined by how long that connecting cable is.
When creatures that are not part of the intended catch are caught, they are known as bycatch. Longlines are not very discriminating; they very regularly catch or entangle sea turtles, sharks and even birds.
The fishermen of the "Andrea Gail," a real ship lost at sea and featured in the book and film "The Perfect Storm," were longliner swordfishermen.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.