Artisanal fishing (or traditional/subsistence fishing) are various small-scale, low-technology, low-capital, fishing practices undertaken by individual fishing households (as opposed to commercial companies). Many of these households are of coastal or island ethnic groups. These households make short (rarely overnight) fishing trips close to the shore. Their produce is usually not processed and is mainly for local consumption. Artisan fishing uses traditional fishing techniques such as rod and tackle, fishing arrows and harpoons, cast nets, and small (if any) traditional fishing boats.
Artisan fishing may be undertaken for both commercial and subsistence reasons. It contrasts with large-scale modern commercial fishing practices in that it is often less wasteful and less stressful on fish populations than modern industrial fishing.
A traditional dug out canoe between 3–18 meters long is used in Nigeria for artisanal fishing. Artisanal fishers in this area use gear that included, "cast nets, handlines, basket traps, longlines, set gillnets and beach and purse seines."
Fishing vessels used in Sudan include from the sharoaq, feluka and murkab al hadeed. Equipment varies by region and includes fixed nets, drift nets, seine nets, long line and cast nets.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on artisanal fisheries to live. Artisanal fishing is critically important for not only food, but for jobs, income, nutrition, food security, sustainable livelihoods, and poverty alleviation as well. Artisanal fisheries are the predominant form of fisheries in "tropical developing countries" such as Nigeria.
The importance of artisanal and small-scale fisheries have been recognized in the first internationally agreed instrument dedicated entirely to small-scale fisheries. This agreement, drafted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is titled the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication and was implemented in 2015 .