Electrifying the Fleet


The NFFO announces the publication of a report into alternative propulsion.

The British fishing industry can rightly be proud of supplying healthy food, with a significantly smaller environmental footprint than most other sources of protein.

At the same time, however, we cannot deny the reality of climate change and the threat to our way of life that it represents.  All industries – all individuals – should want to minimise their impact on our environment and reducing carbon emissions has become the focus of these efforts for many.

Burning fuel is a major driver of climate change, but producing food for a growing population takes a lot of energy. The terrible war in Ukraine and the soaring fuel prices that have followed it have given extra urgency to the need to resolve this dilemma. New solutions are needed.

Fortunately, fishermen have always been innovators and the NFFO has taken the next step in its response to the fuel and climate crises by commissioning a report (‘Electrifying the Fleet’) into alternative ways of powering fishing boats. The work was completed by a team from the University of Hull, led by Dr Magnus Johnson. A grant from the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme made the study possible, supported by additional funds from the Future Fisheries Alliance and the North Sea Wildlife Trusts.

The report’s authors conclude that, while no off-the-shelf solutions are currently available, existing technologies could be used to build hybrid diesel-electric systems that would achieve significant energy and emissions savings for static gear fishing boats.

Spreading the benefits of electric propulsion to other sectors of the fishing fleet will require technologies to be further developed and refined and there is an obvious need for investment in harbour infrastructure to support battery charging in the future.

It is clear, though, that the first steps towards practical electric propulsion for fishing boats are being taken. It is equally clear that inaction on this issue is not an option.