A fishing vessel is a boat or ship used to catch fish in the sea, or on a lake or river. Many different kinds of vessels are used in commercial, artisanal and recreational fishing. According to the FAO, there are currently (2004) four million commercial fishing vessels. About 1.3 million of these are decked vessels with enclosed areas. Nearly all of these decked vessels are mechanised, and 40,000 of them are over 100 tons. At the other extreme, two-thirds (1.8 million) of the undecked boats are traditional craft of various types, powered only by sail and oars. These boats are used by artisan fishers. Drawing of a sport fishing boat It is difficult to estimate how many recreational fishing boats there are, although the number is high. The term is fluid, since most recreational boats are also used for fishing from time to time. Unlike most commercial fishing vessels, recreational fishing boats are often not dedicated just to fishing. Just about anything that will stay afloat can be called a recreational fishing boat, so long as a fisher periodically climbs aboard with the intent to catch a fish. Fish are caught for recreational purposes from boats which range from dugout canoes, kayaks, rafts, pontoon boats and small dingies to runabouts, cabin cruisers and cruising yachts to large, hi-tech and luxurious big game rigs. Larger boats, purpose-built with recreational fishing in mind, usually have large, open cockpits at the stern, designed for convenient fishing. Early fishing vessels included rafts, dugout canoes, and boats constructed from a frame covered with hide or tree bark, along the lines of a coracle. The oldest boats found by archaeological excavation are dugout canoes dating back to the Neolithic Period around 7,000-9,000 years ago. These canoes were often cut from coniferous tree logs, using simple stone tools. A 7000 year-old sea going boat made from reeds and tar has been found in Kuwait. These early vessels had limited capability; they could float and move on water, but were not suitable for use any great distance from the shoreline. They were used mainly for fishing and hunting. The development of fishing boats took place in parallel with the development of boats built for trade and war. Early navigators began to use animal skins or woven fabrics for sails. Affixed to a pole set upright in the boat, these sails gave early boats more range, allowing voyages of exploration. Viking boat showing clinker planking Around 4000 B.C., Egyptians were building long narrow boats powered by many oarsmen. Over the next 1,000 years, they made a series of remarkable advances in boat design. They developed cotton-made sails to help their boats go faster with less work. Then they built boats large enough to cross the oceans. These boats had sails and oarsmen, and were used for travel and trade. By 3000 BC, the Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood into a ship hull. They used woven straps to lash planks together, and reeds or grass stuffed between the p anks to seal the seams. An example of their skill is the Khufu ship, a vessel 143 feet (44 m) in length entombed at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2,500 BC and found intact in 1954. At about the same time, the Scandinavians were also building innovative boats. People living near Kongens Lyngby in Denmark, came up with the idea of segregated hull compartments, which allowed the size of boats to gradually be increased. A crew of some two dozen paddled the wooden Hjortspring boat across the Baltic Sea long before the rise of the Roman Empire. Scandinavians continued to develop better ships, incorporating iron and other metal into the design and developing oars for propulsion. The oldest Nordic shipfind is the Nydam boat, found preserved in the Nydam Mose bog in Sundeved, Denmark. It has been dendro dated to 310-320 AD., and is the oldest known boat to use clinker planking, where the planks overlap one another. Built of oak, it is 23 metres long and about 4 metres wide. It originally weighed over three tonnes and was rowed by thirty men. By 1000 A.D. the Norsemen were pre-eminent on the oceans. They were skilled seamen and boat builders, with clinker-built boat designs that varied according to the type of boat. Trading boats, such as the knarrs, were wide to allow large cargo storage. Raiding boats, such as the longship, were long and narrow and very fast. The vessels they used for fishing were scaled down versions of their cargo boats. The Scandinavian innovations influenced fishing boat design long after the Viking period came to an end. For example, yoles from the Orkney island of Stroma were built in the same way as the Norse boats. Herring Buss taking aboard its drift net (G. Groenewegen) In the 15th century, the Dutch developed a type of sea-going herring drifter that became a blueprint for European fishing boats. This was the Herring Buss, used by Dutch herring fishermen until the early 19th centuries. The ship type buss has a long history. It was known around 1000 AD in Scandinavia as a buza, a robust variant of the Viking longship. The first herring buss was probably built in Hoorn around 1415. The last one was built in Vlaardingen in 1841. The ship was about 20 metres long and displaced between 60 and 100 tons. It was a massive round-bilged keel ship with a bluff bow and stern, the latter relatively high, and with a gallery. The busses used long drifting gill nets to catch the herring. The nets would be retrieved at night and the crews of eighteen to thirty men would set to gibbing, salting and barrelling the catch on the broad deck. The ships sailed in fleets of 400 to 500 ships to the Dogger Bank fishing grounds and the Shetland isles. They were usually escorted by naval vessels, because the English considered they were "poaching". The fleet would stay at sea for weeks at a time. The catch would sometimes be transferred to special ships (called ventjagers), and taken home while the fleet would still be at sea (the picture shows a ventjager in the distance).