Our fishing techniques

Purse seining

Purse seining is a fishing technique used on the Scapêche ships Tximistarri II and Mirentxu I. It is used for catching pelagic fish, particularly blue fish such as mackerel or sardine. It is based on nets used on the surface to encircle shoals of fish. Floaters are fixed to the top part while the lower part is weighted. A drawstring allows the net to act like a purse (by closing the lower part) which can thus hold all the encircled fish. The purse seine is put into the water at great speed so as to encircle the fish, which are detected visually or by sonar beforehand, as quickly as possible. It takes approximately a quarter of an hour to catch the fish, from the start of putting the net into the water to the end of pursing. The fish are then brought on-board with a brail net. This technique allows Scapêche to ensure good species selection and excellent quality since the fish are brought alongside alive.

Pelagic trawling

Scapêche uses pair pelagic trawling during the longfin tuna season with the ships Bougainville, La Pérouse and Fastnet. Paired pelagic trawling is a net towed by two boats. The net constitutes a funnel-shaped body closed by a bag known as the cod-end and extended forward by wings. Scapêche's pelagic trawls are towed in mid-water, from the surface to near the bottom. The front part of the net is usually made in very large mesh, or with simple rigging, which herd the shoals of fish towards the back part of the net. The fishing depth is usually controlled by means of a sounder situated at the front of the trawl. The advantage of this technique for Scapêche is good species selectivity. This selectivity is due to the behaviour of the targeted species which often live in homogeneous shoals.

Bottom trawling

Scapêche has 13 boats which practice bottom trawling. The trawl is towed by the boat by means of steel cables called trawl warps. The net is opened horizontally by otter boards, usually rectangular, situated 50 to 100 metres in front of the trawl, which push outwards. Vertical opening is by floats situated at the front top end of the net. One boat generally tows a trawl. This is the case for the Scapêche boats Jean-Claude Coulon II, Mariette Le Roch II, Pierre-Jacques Matigny, Claude Moinier II, Alya, Effera and Héliotrope . It also has 6 boats that practise pair trawling (Fastnet, Julien Coléou, Ksora, Rossoren, Bougainville and La Pérouse) , in which the boat simultaneously tows two trawls with the aid of special rigging. With this technique Scapêche catches species living near the seabed.


The Scapêche – COMATA longliner is called Ile de la Réunion and is one of the few boats authorised to catch the Patagonian toothfish. Long lines are lines with hooks on, to which bait is attached to catch fish looking for food. With the aid of anchors and floats they can be laid on the or near the seabed. Scapêche values this fishing technique because of its finely-tuned selectivity (the choice of fishing sector and bait mean species and sizes can be carefully selected) and the excellent quality of the fish with optimum freshness.


Scapêche also has a crab boat, the Zubernoa, which lays pots in the water for crab fishing. The pots consist of a rigid structure covered with net. An opening called a mouth is made in the net to allow the animal in; it is positioned in such a way that the animal cannot easily escape. Bait is placed inside the pot to attract the crabs.
The pots or keepnets are generally selective, and when they catch animals smaller than the legal size the fishermen throw them back into the water alive. They are respectful of habitats and do not damage the sea floors. The quality of products brought aboard is excellent; all individuals remaining alive in the traps.