How Do Shrimp Boats Work?

Photo by Tomas Martinez on Unsplash

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Shrimp is widely adored as one of the most delicious seafood items globally, and the industry has been experiencing a visible surge in demand every year. The shrimp fishery sector’s overall worth was approximately $40 billion in 2022, and the number has been consistently rising year after year, indicating a continuous expansion of the demand for shrimp boats.

Shrimp boats or trawlers are similar to ordinary boats in basic design and structure. In fact, shrimping boats are nothing but modified fishing trawlers that have outriggers on each side. These outriggers hold fishing nets that can be controlled from the boat deck. 

Want to harvest some shrimp yourself?

Stay with me, and I will walk you through every detail regarding shrimping boats, their design, features, and working principles. Let’s get started.


Understanding A Shrimp Boat

Shrimping boats, or trawlers, are specialized vessels constructed to harvest shrimp from the sea. Despite variations in their designs and sizes, they all serve the goal of maximizing shrimp catch while minimizing environmental harm. In short, A boat outfitted with shrimp pots or nets to harvest shrimp can be classified as a shrimping boat, regardless of its original purpose.

A large net is released from the boat and allowed to sink into the water. The net’s depth may vary, depending on the possible location of the shrimp, and it may either reach the seafloor or hang suspended in the middle of the water column.


Shrimp boats may have various designs, primarily depending on the sea conditions, the types of shrimp you want to catch, and the scale of your business. Commonly, there are three types of shrimp boats: single-rig trawler, double-rig trawler, and triple-rig trawler. Let’s discuss them each:

  • Single-rig Trawler

Single-rig trawlers are small vessels best suited for inshore fishing on a small scale, especially in shallow waters with mild currents. These boats have a simple design, with a single net suspended from a boom and lowered deep into the water. The net is then dragged along the seafloor, capturing shrimp and other small fish.

  • Double-rig Trawler

The double-rig trawler is a more sophisticated iteration of the single-rig trawler, featuring two nets suspended from booms on opposite sides of the boat. Depending on factors such as water depth, current strength, and shrimp population, a double-rig trawler may be preferable to its single-rig counterpart.

  • Triple-rig Trawler

Triple-rig trawlers are the most complex type of shrimp boats primarily used on an industrial level. Apart from a considerable size, they feature three nets suspended from booms located on each side and at the stern. Triple-rig trawlers are tailored for offshore fishing in deep waters with strong currents and may require specialized handling expertise. 



A shrimp boat incorporates various small components and features that enhance its suitability for shrimping, promoting efficiency while minimizing environmental impact. Below are some of the most prevalent features found on a typical shrimp boat:

  • Winches

Shrimp boats are equipped with powerful winches to deploy and retrieve the trawl net for catching shrimp. These winches are typically controlled using either hydraulic or electric power and are capable of pulling several tons of weight. The winch capacity may vary depending on the size of the shrimp boat.

  • Boom

Booms are long poles located at the vessel’s sides and hold the trawl net in place. They can also be used to control the depth and height of the net, depending on the depth of the water and the types of species you want to harvest. 

  • Trawl Nets

The trawl net is an essential part of any shrimp boat, which is used to catch shrimp and other marine organisms. Trawl nets are like any other fishing nets, made of fine mesh, allowing water to pass through and trap shrimp, fish, and others. These nets are made of a robust and durable material designed to withstand harsh ocean environments.

  • Navigation & Communication 

Navigation and communication equipment are crucial to any Shrimp boat. They ensure the safety of the large-size vessels and help them return safely to the shore. GPS, Radar, and radio are some examples. 

  • Sorting Tables

Each shrimp boat is outfitted with one or more sorting tables, where crew members sort and process the catch, filtering the shrimp. Typically composed of stainless steel, these tables feature a range of differently sized holes that permit shrimp and other desirable organisms to pass through while retaining unwanted bycatch.


How Does A Shrimp Boat Work?

Shrimp boats operate on the simple principle of trawling, which involves pulling a net along the ocean floor to capture shrimp and other marine creatures.

  • Deployment

The first step in shrimp fishing is to deploy the trawl net. The net is attached to the booms and lowered into the water using the winches. The depth and speed of the net are controlled by adjusting the booms and winches.

  • Trawling

Once the net is deployed, the vessel cruises slowly through the water, pulling the net along the bottom. The trawl net is dragged along the seabed for a certain distance, depending on the water’s depth and the shrimp’s location.

  • Retrieval 

After the net has been trawled for an appropriate distance, it is retrieved with the winch’s help. The winch is capable of handling multiple tons of weight, and the amount of catch in the net can be assessed by its weight. The net is retrieved if the crew members think they’ve caught enough. 

  • Sorting & Processing

After the net is pulled back onto the deck of the shrimp boat, the catch is sorted and processed on the sorting tables. These tables have different sizes of holes based on the requirements and can easily filter shrimps from unwanted bycatch. 

Here is a video explaining the working principle of a typical Shrimp boat:


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