History of fishing

For millennia – at least since the Stone Age – fishing has been a human practice. Simple catching devices and techniques for inshore fishing were refined in the years to follow. Several display cases show catching devices, fishing equipment and documents from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

A showcase displays relics of ancient fishing at MEERESMUSEUM’s fisheries exhibition. All exhibits intend to give an impression of ancient primeval fishing methods. Back then, success heavily depended on a hunter’s and fisherman’s skills. Catching fish with barbed wooden spears was not easy since the refraction of light distorts a fish’s actual position. Soon, spears with two or three tines improved yield. Fishing hooks made of long bone or deer antlers were used for greater water depths.

Fishing boat ERIKA was built in 1924. It has a considerable length of 6.95 metres, a width of 2.45 metres and a mast height of 6.70 metres. At the time, it was one of the bigger local workboats fishermen used for inshore fishing. This type of boat was hardly seagoing but equipped with oars and simple sails it was well-suited for fishing in bodden waters. Before moving to MEERESMUSEUM 38 years ago, BREG 13 had served as an inshore fishing boat to set fish traps.

What? Herrings can make phone calls? Or can you phone a herring? Well, fishermen of earlier generations would say you can. At MEERESMUSEUM’s fisheries exhibition you can see a traditional herring telephone. At a time when echo sounding was not available, fishermen had to find other ways to locate schools of herrings since the key question of fishing has always been: “Where are the fish”? They are well concealed underwater, so detecting them requires creative means and methods.

The massive iron balls of the bobbin, the big rounded otter boards and the mighty steel chains seem to weigh tons. The iron balls resemble sea mines or bombs. But nothing is blown up here, although fishermen refer to their heavyweight gear as “bombs”. Today, trawl nets have gained such enormous dimensions that only smaller models can be displayed. Even MEERESMUSEUM’s spacious St. Catherine’s hall provides just enough room to accommodate a few of the original massive parts of those giant trawl nets.

What a beauty! Watch a giant cod in the fisheries exhibition. It was caught in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea in 1983. Today, just 30 years later, cods of this size have become rare. Although industrial fishing and overfishing were an issue back then, fish populations were larger and could withstand fishing pressure. Many individuals were able to get remarkably older and bigger. This also granted enough offspring ensuring survival of the species. Nowadays, giant trawl nets and commercial fishing increasingly deprive the cod of the chance to procreate.