Electricity May Supplant Nets in Taking Fish (Mar, 1931)

Electricity May Supplant Nets in Taking Fish

Catching fish by shocking them with electricity is an experiment being tried by the Australian State Fishery Station, at Sydney Bay. A fishing boat has been fitted with charged electrical grids or electrodes of copper that are submerged in the water. Powerful electric generators force a current through the water between the electrodes, shocking all near-by fish, which then float to the surface and are picked up alive in large nets.

Large-scale application of the method may be possible. Fishing boats might go out singly or in pairs, to fish electrically. Single boats would have electrodes at bow and stern. If two boats operate together, each would use a single electrode and an electric cable would connect them.

A Swedish engineer named Moiler devised this electric fishing, after making good hauls with an electrified rowboat. The drawing on this page, based on cabled reports of his system, shows how it might be applied on a large wooden-hulled fishing ship. A metal hull could not be used, as it would short-circuit the current.

  1. Anne says: July 16, 20084:21 am

    This sort of thing is illegal these days, isn’t it?

  2. Rick Segedi says: July 16, 200810:49 am

    The current path in this drawing looks remarkably like that of the electric field generated by the Amazonian fish Electrophorus electricus, otherwise known as the electric eel. In fact that’s the way they stun their prey. I’ve worked with those babies and have gotten a few shocks from them myself.

  3. jayessell says: July 17, 200810:06 am

    I saw something on TV that said that dispite the eel’s insulated brain, it still shocks itself when it discharges.
    F*** the glow in the dark mice, we need electric Pine trees!

  4. Rick Segedi says: July 17, 200811:49 am

    That’s correct. They do shock themselves as well as their prey and attackers. However sensitive organs and systems such as the brain, heart and nerves are heavily insulated. The heart is even mounted in such a way that it is sideways to the path of the current rather than lengthways to it as it would be in other animals. Presumably this somehow reduces the risk of damage from the current. By the way, even though they look eel-like they are really part of a rather large group of fishes known as knife fishes, all of which discharge electric currents into the water, mostly for orientation and for locating objects. The electric eel is the largest and most powerful of this group and is said to be able to discharge pulses of about 1000 volts at one ampere. The most I’ve ever measured, however, was 600 volts at a little over a quarter of an amp and that was from a four foot specimen. The same one that knocked me on my a** once 😉

  5. Jim says: February 12, 200912:34 pm

    Rick – I have been looking to get ahold of you with regard to the electric eel and its capabilities.
    I wanted to build an exhibit like the one you did at the Pitt Aqua Zoo.
    Can you tell me how I go about it?

  6. rick says: February 12, 20092:49 pm


    Email me at [email protected].


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