Before the age of trawlers fishing was mainly carried out along the coast or on inland waterways from sailing ships. In 1885 the Geestemünder (now: Bremerhaven) Fischgrosshändler Friedrich C. Busse built the first iron trawler, the “SAGITTA“, marking the dawn of industrialised deep-sea fishing in Germany. The “SAGITTA“ embarked on its maiden fishing voyage on February 7, 1885. This first German trawler was 33.14 metres long, 6.38 metres wide and had a draught of 3.47 metres.
As early as 1895 a radical new catching technology was introduced. Based on English models, German trawlers carried a trawl board, replacing the beam trawler which had been standard until then. It was this development that led to the term “trawler” being used for steam-powered fishing vessels in Germany. On side trawlers the trawl net was hauled in over the side of the bulwark.
With the beginning of the First World War in 1914 German deep-sea fishing came to a sudden end, as war prevented the German trawlers from sailing to the profitable fishing grounds off Iceland, Greenland and the Barents Sea. A lot of deep sea fishermen were conscripted into the army and could therefore no longer work in the fishing fleet. By virtue of a new wartime law, 111 trawlers were also commissioned into the Imperial Navy.back