Jim Ford, captain of the F/V Lisa Anne II, is the first fisherman in New England to use semi-pelagic otter boards on his vessel. Otter boards are used to keep the trawl net open, typically generating a lot of drag as they sweep through the water and across the seabed.
Ford commented, "I'm not afraid to try something new, and at first I couldn't believe how well they worked. They tow easier and save on fuel."
The Massachusetts fisherman worked with GMRI Fishing Gear Technologist Steve Eayrs to compare the performance of semi-pelagic boards to standard boards using a fuel flow meter. When semi-pelagic boards were used, fuel consumption was reduced by 12 percent compared to the standard boards, and there was no difference in the commercial catch.
Eayrs remarked, "The payback period for semi-pelagic boards may be as short as 6 to 18 months, depending on how much fuel a fisherman uses in a year. It's exciting to see fishermen experimenting with new approaches to improve performance and profitability, particularly when they also reduce seabed impact."