Fish Radio

July 18, 2014

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Do it yourself energy audits for fishing boats. More after this –


Paravane roll dampening system Credit: afdf

Paravane roll dampening system
Credit: afdf

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A new project aims to show fishermen how they can save money with do it yourself energy audits on their boats. And volunteer vessels are wanted to test drive some of the technologies and methods.

 Just as with a home audit to try and understand where your energy is going, how your vessel is consuming energy and finds places where it might be wasted or not used as efficiently as possible, and frankly, most fishing vessels are not very energy efficient.  

Terry Johnson is a marine advisor with Alaska Sea Grant in Anchorage. He’s part of a team working with the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation on a new three year project to find ways to reduce fuel needs by fishing businesses. It’s bankrolled with $250,000 from the State. They are working with various experts and volunteer vessels to test things like fuel catalysts and other additives, and perhaps hydrogen generators. In the meantime, Johnson is focused on operation and maintenance ways to get better performance with existing boats.

 I encourage operators to look for heat and vibrations and smoke because we think of those things as normal, but those are all wasted energy and they shouldn’t exist. They should be looking for ways to minimize those.   

The big aim in propulsion energy is simply to reduce power demand.

  Really the story in energy efficiency especially in propulsion, is simply to reduce the power demand – don’t draw as much energy out of the engine by looking at ways of reducing the amount. //That can be as simple as checking your drive lines, be sure all of your bearings are in good condition and properly lubricated and reducing the distance you travel by tightening up the steering or using better methods of planning your routes.

Johnson says propellers also are a big focus in improving energy efficiency.

 Most traditional fishing vessel propellers are of a very old design and often mismatched to the boat, and there are lots of ways that they can be tuned to be more efficient.

In other countries, fishing boats rely heavily on auxiliary sails. Johnson says sails also have a great stabilizing effect.

 Since other types of stabilizers, such as paravane stabilizers that a lot of our boats use, are tremendous energy sinks. 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.

Industry advisors are wanted along with fishing boats. Find out more at   


Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.