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A wooden corf

A corf (pl. corves) also spelt corve (pl. corves) is a container of wood, net, chicken wire, metal or plastic used to contain live fish, eels or crustaceans (such as crayfish) underwater, at docks or in fishing boats.[1][2]

Origin of term[edit]

1350–1400; Middle English from Dutch and German Korb, ultimately borrowed from Latin corbis basket;[3] cf. corbeil


Corves were originally crucial to keep captured fish fresh until the boat with the catch reached its harbor.[4] A corf could be towed behind the boat while fishermen made the journey from the fishing grounds to the fish market. These journeys could last up to half a day.[5] When used for storing eels in Blekinge, Sweden, the corves could be as large as 3.75 by 1.33 by 0.8 m (12 ft 3 58 in by 4 ft 4 38 in by 2 ft 7 12 in) and contain about 2 metric tons (2.2 short tons; 2.0 long tons) of eels. They would be anchored approximately 100 m (330 ft) from land in an area where the water circulation was good to keep the eels alive.[6] Smaller corves were often used in fishing boats to keep live bait for longline fishing.[4]

The corf could also be built into the boat, and sometimes be a significant part of it.[4] Fishing boats with a well amidships where water is circulated through small holes in the hull are known as well smacks.[7][8]

In present days corves used for this purpose have commonly been replaced by refrigeration and freezing.[9]


A corf-house is a small building or shed constructed for commercial curing of fish, mostly salmon, in. It is also used to store nets and fishing equipment in.[3] One such house is the listed By Lovat Bridge Corf House in Beauly, Scotland.[10]

Modern use[edit]

Corves are mainly used by recreational fishermen and mass-produced in plastic netting or metal.[11][12] Their use is regulated through laws and regulations in some countries such as Sweden,[13][14][15] and Australia.[16]

Modern fishing boats often have integral corves. These are built into the boat and the water in them kept fresh and oxygenated through a circulatory system with water and air pumps. This kind of corf is called a livewell.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fisheries management (general) regulations 2007-reg 3". Australasian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Strömquist, Siv (6 April 2003). "Sumpad sump i sumpen" [Lost used coffee grounds in the corf]. Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Jamieson, John (1840). An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (2 ed.). W. Tait. p. 245. 
  4. ^ a b c Kjellgren, Joachim (22 August 2013). "Ovanligt träföremål i vår frågelåda" [Question about an unusual object]. Länsmuseet Västernorrland. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "History". Lerøy. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Fisksump/ålsump från Truseryd". Blekinge museum. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Lars. "Åländsk fisksump" [Well smack from Åland]. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "Well smack for driftnet fishing K. 1213 De tre brødre from Kalvehave". Fisheries and Maritime Museum, Esbjerg. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Johnston, W.A.; Nicholson, A.Roger; Stroud, G.D. (1994). Freezing and refrigerated storage in fisheries. Aberdeen: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 13.1. ISBN 92-5-103579-2. 
  10. ^ "By Lovat Bridge Corf House, Beauly". BritishListedBuildings. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fisksump" [Corf]. Malco. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Strömmings sköljare metall" [Herring corf, metal]. Sundbybergs Sportfiske. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Generella villkor" [General terms]. Sveriges Sportfiske- och Fiskevårdsförbund. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "Fiskelag (1993:787)" [Laws on fishing (1993:787)]. Notisum AB. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Fiskeregler i havet" [Fishing regulations at sea] (PDF). County administrative boards of Sweden. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Fisheries (General) Regulations 2000" (PDF). Government of Australia. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Hur man installerar en fisktanks Aerator Pump" [How to install a livewell aerator pump]. Drelkins. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Arvor 250 AS". GBM Marin AB. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of corf at Wiktionary