Maritime Forum

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2006-17-lot 3 Energy efficiency of fishing operations by the Community fishing fleet

Published on: Fri, 21/05/2010 - 18:12
Table of Contents


    Many European fisheries face economic difficulties as a result of high fuel prices and low income. One way out of this situation is the development of more fuel efficient fishing techniques. This study will give an overview of these alterative, more fuel efficient methods.

    Why this study?

    Increasing the fuel efficiency, especially in times of high fuel prices, would help the profitability of fishing fleets. This study aims at providing an overview, from at least three of the geographical areas of the EU, of information that could help fishermen in making investment decisions into new technologies with lower energy costs.

    The study should bring together exiting knowledge on fuel consumption and fuel efficiency of fishing vessels; collect new information by metier and type of vessel; make an overview of existing technological solutions with improved fuel efficiency; analyse this information and present it in such a way that fishers can assess the effect, especially economical, of different alternative techniques. 


    1. Make a survey of available technical literature and determine the most energy efficient techniques as in: catch per unit of energy. The overview to be presented as a catalogue of major fisheries, metiers, vessel sizes, including economic information on initial investment and running costs of the different techniques.
    2. Collect data on the actual energy consumption on board different fishing fleets. Under different fishing conditions measure energy consumption of all the devices used during fishing.
    3. For the currently available alternative technologies provide information on the operating principles, potential savings, reliability, maintainability, examples of current installations. This should be produces as a catalogue overview of available alternative more fuel efficient fishing technology.
    4. Advise for different fisheries, fleets, metiers how the fuel efficiency might be improved. This advise should take different scenarios into consideration , ranging from today’s fuel prices to higher and lower fuel prices as well as higher or lower than today catch rates. The advise to take into account initial investment needed, period of repayment and long-term gains


    The study started with an inventory of potential technical solutions and ongoing projects in the participating member states. The economic performance of selected fleet segments was analysed with emphasis on the role of energy costs. This economic analysis considered aspects such as: break-even fuel price, factors determining energy efficiency, the economic potential for technological improvement and scenarios for future outlook related to possible development of fuel price. Finally, the economic feasibility of proposed technological adaptations was assessed.

    Ongoing national and international research projects show the possibilities of saving energy by reducing the drag of towed fishing gears, changing the design of gear and components, using alternative ways to stimulate fish to be captured, as well as replacement by alternative gear types, including static gears. Some of these projects involved the collection of new data on the detailed breakdown of energy consumption using newly developed fuel measurement devices onboard commercial vessels, e.g. in Italy.

    A number of so called ‘reference vessels’ were selected by fleet segment for which detailed technical information was collected, often by personally contacting vessel owners. For each of these cases a range of technical adaptations were analysed using an integrated energy systems model. This computer model simulates fuel consumption, efficiencies of the installation, and power used in various operational modes, such as: steaming to and from fishing grounds, shooting and hauling fishing gear, towing fishing gear, and harbour operation. By using this model the percentage change in fuel consumption was calculated for each proposed technical or operational adaptation, relative to the base line vessel operation (i.e. prior to any adaptation). The technical adaptations considered were i.a.: redesigned fishing gears including all their components to reduce drag, applying alternative stimulation in fishing gears to replace heavy bottom chafing material, optimising propeller design, improving hull shape. Also operational changes have been analysed such as: reducing steaming and towing speeds or cleaning hulls more frequently. The percentage reduction in fuel consumption, with estimates of investment costs for new technology or changed procedures and effects on vessel productivity (landings per unit of effort) were used in an economic model to appraise the economic feasibility of the proposed adaptations and the overall effect on profitability.

    The study showed that individual technological adaptations offer energy savings mostly in the range of 5-20%, with a few exceptions going as high as 40% for beam trawlers. In view of the diversity of vessels, gears and fisheries it is not possible to generalize how much savings could be achieved with a completely new fuel efficient design. However, it is most likely that economically investments in such new fuel efficient design are not feasible, as otherwise they would certainly have taken place during the period of high fuel prices. Some segments perform so strongly that they remain profitable even at fuel prices reached in the first half of 2008, between 100 and 140 US$/barrel Brent and up to 0.75 €/liter at the level of the fleet. This applies particularly to passive gears <12m in France and Italy (but not in Denmark) and the (large) pelagic trawlers in the UK, Ireland and in Italy. For almost all other segments for which technical adaptations have been proposed, the break-even fuel price after the adaptation remains (far) below the 2008 fuel price, which implies that these adaptations will improve the economic performance somewhat, but they will not solve the structural problem, which must be sought by raising productivity.

    The techno-economic analysis shows that for many highly fuel price sensitive fleets, improvement in economic performance can only be achieved through a mix of technical adaptations aimed at reducing fuel use and adaptations aimed at increasing earnings from catches. This implies that the size of the fleets will have to be reduced proportionately in order to ensure that the effective pressure of stocks does not increase.


    Full title: Energy Saving in Fisheries

    Organisations: IMARES, Institute of Food and Resource Economics, French research institute for the exploitation of the sea, Universite Europeenne de Bretagne, Irish Sea Fisheries Board, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche CNR, Universita degli studi di Salerno - Istituto Ricerche Economiche per la Pesca e l’Acquacoltura (IREPA) - Onlus, Framian Ltd., Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO – Built Environment and Geosciences - Business Unit: Structures and Safety, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research - Sea Fisheries Department, Sea Fish Industry Authority

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