December 1, 2020

Low Fuel Costs for Fishermen

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lc fish picThe recent rise in fuel prices has left fishing boat owners, both international and local, struggling to make ends meet and asking what measures can be taken to reduce the heavy burden of increased fuel cost.

Due to the litres of fuel required per tonne of fish – and depending on the species and fishing method used – fuel saving methods have to be tailored to suit each situation. With this end in mind a new manual, Fuel Savings for Small Fishing Vessels, offers practical advice on cost reduction to fishing boat owners, boat designers, and builders among others.

Released by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the manual focuses on small fishing boats measuring up to 16 m (50 ft) in length and operating at speeds of less than 10 knots. This covers the majority of fishing boats worldwide.

Accompanied by many illustrations, the book offers fuel saving tips that include: reducing boat service speed, selecting efficient propellers, keeping the hull and propeller free from underwater fouling, as well as continuous boat engine maintenance – all of which can be done without major investment costs. It also suggests that changing fishing methods can save gasoline.

For more information on ways to avoid high fuel prices, a copy of the manual can be downloaded at

The manual is based on the FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 383, Fuel and financial savings for operators of small fishing vessels published in 1999, and on the Bay of Bengal Programme publication BOBP/WP/27, Reducing the fuel costs of small fishing boats, published in 1986 by FAO/SIDA. Due to the recent fuel crisis, a new emphasis has been placed on energy conservation in fisheries and on research programmes related to energy use in fisheries worldwide. Information from various sources has been included in the References and Additional Reading sections of this manual.

The manual is aimed at assisting small fishing vessel owners and operators together with boat designers and boatbuilders in reducing fuel consumption. It also serves as a guide for those involved with fuel savings for small vessels used in support of aquaculture activities.

Preparation of the manual was funded by the government of Norway and by the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and completed under the supervision of Ari Gudmundsson, Fishery Industry Officer (Vessels), Fishing Operations and Technology Service.

The first chapters of the manual deal with fuel saving measures that can be taken on existing boats without incurring major investment costs. The most effective measures include reducing boat service speed, keeping the hull and propeller free from underwater fouling and maintaining the boat engine. It also suggests that changing fishing methods can save fuel.

The final chapters of this manual provide information regarding the fuel savings that are possible by changing from a 2-stroke outboard engine to a diesel engine, installing a diesel engine, and using sail. Selecting economic engine power on the basis of the waterline length and the weight of the boat is discussed. Advice is given on the choice of gear reduction ratio and of propeller related to service speed, service power and propeller rpm. Data are provided to assist with the design of a new fuel-efficient boat and the selection of an optimum propeller.

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