February 7, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 6

Volunteers needed for energy audits on fishing boats

Volunteers are needed to test drive some new money-saving methods for ‘do it yourself’ energy audits on fishing boats.

“Just as with a home audit where you try and understand where your energy is going, you can learn how your vessel is consuming energy and find places where it might be wasted or not used as efficiently as possible, and frankly, most fishing vessels are not very energy efficient,” said Terry Johnson, a marine advisor with Alaska Sea Grant in Anchorage.

Johnson is part of a team working on a three year project to find ways to reduce fuel and energy needs by fishing businesses. The project, led by Julie Decker, is administered by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation with a $250,000 assist from the State. Starting this spring, the group plans to test various fuel catalysts and additives, and perhaps hydrogen generators on volunteer vessels.

Meanwhile, Johnson is focused on do it yourself ways to get better energy performance with existing boats.

“Look for heat and vibrations and smoke - we think of those things as normal, but those are all wasted energy and they shouldn’t exist. Look for ways to minimize that,” he said.

Checking drive lines, being sure all bearings are in good condition and properly lubricated, tightening up steering and better route planning also can reduce energy demands. Johnson said propellers also are a big “frontier” in improving efficiency.

“Most traditional fishing vessel propellers are of a very old design and often mismatched to the boat. There are lots of ways they can be tuned to be more efficient,” he said.

In other countries, fishing boats rely heavily on auxiliary sails. Johnson said, which also have a great stabilizing effect. Paravane stabilizers commonly used by longliners and seiners, are tremendous energy sinks, sapping about 15% of fuel.

“They suck a lot of energy out of the engine. If you can reduce the use of stabilizers by using a sail, you get a significant savings right there,” he said, adding that active fins are another energy drag. Find out more about the F/V energy audit program at www.afdf.org

You catch it, You eat it – The bycatch to food bank” program by Bering Sea trawl fishermen and processors has come full circle.

Twenty years ago, the fleet began a program that let them retain salmon, halibut and other species taken as bycatch instead of discarding the fish, as required by law. The fish was processed, frozen and packaged and sent to food banks across the nation.

Now, the fish is staying in the state and feeding Alaskans. The Western Alaska Community Development Association, comprising the region’s six CDQ groups, led and funded the program starting last year. WACDA urged all Bering Sea fishing companies to retain all bycatch, and share the cost to deliver the fish to food banks and feeding centers in Alaska.

“That added up to 300,000 seafood meals in Alaska last year, from fish that would otherwise be thrown overboard,” said Jim Harmon of SeaShare, which connects the seafood industry to national hunger relief efforts. A similar bycatch to food banks program also is underway in the Gulf of Alaska.

Fish watch: The 2013 Pacific halibut fishery begins March 23 and ends November 7.

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