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.
The total number of fishing vessels in the world in 2016 was estimated to be about 4.6 million, unchanged from 2014. The fleet in Asia was the largest, consisting of 3.5 million vessels, accounting for 75 percent of the global fleet. In Africa and North America the estimated number of vessels declined from 2014 by just over 30,000 and by nearly 5,000, respectively. For Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania the numbers all increased, largely as a result of improvements in estimation procedures.
It is difficult to estimate the number of recreational fishing boats. They range in size from small dinghies to large charter cruisers, and unlike commercial fishing vessels, are often not dedicated just to fishing.
Prior to the 1950s there was little standardisation of fishing boats. Designs could vary between ports and boatyards. Traditionally boats were built of wood, but wood is not often used now because of higher maintenance costs and lower durability. Fibreglass is used increasingly in smaller fishing vessels up to 25 metres (100 tons), while steel is usually used on vessels above 25 metres.