For Maine fishermen the cost of fuel can be their second largest operating expense after crew salaries and can amount to more than $30,000 a year.
Working with fishermen in Port Clyde and Portland, the GMRI team has found that replacing traditional net twine with fine, high-strength material greatly reduced drag on the net and resulted in a 20-percent savings in fuel. This research was pioneering, and while some fishermen had to make further twine adjustments to suit their operation, all are still enjoying fuel saving benefits.
We also have found that efficient trawl doors can provide a further 10-percent reduction in fuel usage by keeping the net spread open while minimizing contact with seafloor. Trawl doors are designed to help keep the net down near the sea floor and to help keep the tow wires spread far enough apart so that the net keeps the right shape during fishing. The semi-pelagic doors are designed to rise only slightly off the bottom (1 to 3 feet) during a tow. Their more efficient design results in up to 95% reduced seabed impact and no effect on total catch.
Additionally, installation of a simple fuel flow meter, which allows fishermen to easily monitor their fuel consumption, can cut annual fuel costs by around 5 percent.
Combined, these three options produce significant fuel savings and immediate relief from one of fishermen’s greatest expenses — and one that is certain to grow in the future.