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Energy performance of wild-capture marine fisheries at global, regional, and local scales


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Parker, RWR (2016) Energy performance of wild-capture marine fisheries at global, regional, and local scales. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Modern wild-capture marine fisheries are underpinned by energy derived from fossil
fuels. This energy is required for vessel propulsion and gear operation, onboard
processing, freezing and refrigeration, and producing electricity for ancillary services.
Fuel use is the primary driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from marine
fisheries, and the second highest cost to fishers globally after labour. Fuel
consumption has received increased attention from industry, consumers, governments,
and environmental organizations in response to higher and more unpredictable energy
prices and the need to reduce GHG emissions to mitigate climate change. A large and
growing amount of research has been undertaken since the beginning of the 21st
century to measure, characterize, and reduce energy use and GHG emissions in
fishing fleets. This thesis provides an overview of the magnitude of fuel consumption
in marine wild-capture fisheries, assesses how and why fuel consumption and GHG
emissions vary between vessels, fleets, and national industries, and discusses the
environmental and economic implications of energy use in fisheries at global,
regional, and local scales.
The global-scale research here involved the synthesis and analysis of data pertaining
to fuel use in fisheries. Data from all available primary and secondary sources were
compiled in a global fisheries and energy use database (FEUD). Observed rates of
fuel inputs to global fisheries were characterized by target species, primary gear type,
and region. Fuel use rates were then used as a proxy to estimate GHG emissions from
national and global fishing fleets, assess the relative emissions from different sectors
of the global fishing fleet, and track emissions from the industry from 1990 to 2011.
World fisheries in 2011 consumed 40 billion litres of fuel and emitted 168 million
tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent GHGs to the atmosphere. Energy performance
varied between fisheries by three orders of magnitude, with crustacean fisheries
consuming vastly more fuel than fisheries targeting small pelagic forage fish.
Regional-scale research applied cost and revenue data to estimate the fuel use
intensity (FUI) of a range of Australian fisheries and compare environmental
(emissions) and economic (costs) roles of fuel use. Australian fisheries followed
similar patterns to global fisheries, with all of the more fuel-intensive fisheries
targeting rock lobsters and prawns, while the more efficient fisheries targeted small
pelagics. The economic role of fuel also varied markedly, although fuel costs as a
percentage of fishing revenue did not consistently correlate with consumption rates.
Fuel expenditures in Australian fisheries ranged from 2% of revenue in abalone
fisheries to almost 50% in some prawn fisheries, reflecting not only consumption but
also product value. Importantly, some Australian fisheries were identified as having
reduced their FUI in recent years: in particular, the Northern Prawn Fishery
experienced dramatic improvement in energy performance following substantial
management changes including a rapid reduction in number of fishing vessels.
Local-scale research surveyed rock lobster fishers in several locations in Australia and
New Zealand to quantify energy performance of different sectors of a single fishing
industry (targeting similar species with similar gear and producing similar products),
and to determine the relative role of technological, behavioural, and managerial
factors in driving fuel use. Average weighted FUI of rock lobster fisheries was 1,890
L/t. Interregional comparisons showed that fuel consumption was lowest in Western
Australia and New Zealand, where catch per unit effort (CPUE) was highest. The
drivers of fuel use varied between single day and multiday trips—managementrelated
factors, particularly CPUE, were more influential in single day trips, while
technological variables played a larger role in multiday trips.
This thesis demonstrates that fisheries vary markedly in fuel use and GHG emissions.
Globally and regionally, fuel use largely reflects the species being targeted and the
gear being used. Within fisheries, fuel use is influenced by a range of factors, and the
relative effect of these factors varies between fishery. It is therefore difficult to
generalize across the entire industry when assessing the economic and environmental
performance of fisheries and their products in relation to energy use and GHG
emissions. Many fisheries can produce low-carbon, climate-friendly sources of animal
protein and should be promoted as such, while others are as intensive as high-impact
ruminant production. Importantly, more efficient fisheries are not necessarily more
resilient to fuel costs, and the economic impacts on these fisheries needs to be
considered when discussing subsidies and carbon-pricing policies.
The measurement and characterization of fuel use contributes to our understanding of
both the environmental sustainability of fisheries and the economic resilience of
fisheries to rising and volatile energy prices and carbon-related policies. Energy
resource use and climate change will be defining challenges of the 21st century, and
the measurement, characterization, and improvement of energy performance in
fishing fleets is required to ensure the socio-economic resilience and environmental
sustainability of the industry. Incorporation of these issues into fisheries management
and assessments can benefit the industry in the long-term, and help provide a growing
global population with affordable, sustainable products from the ocean.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Fisheries, energy, climate change, greenhouse gases, fisheries management
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2016 the Author

Additional Information:

Chapter 2 appears to be the equivalent of the peer reviewed version of the following article: Parker, R. W. R., Tyedmers, P. H. (2015). Fuel consumption of global fishing fleets: current understanding and knowledge gaps, Fish and fisheries, 16(4), 684-
696, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Chapter 4 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Parker, R. W. R., Hartmann, K., Green, B. S., Gardner, C., Watson, R. A. (2015). Environmental and economic dimensions of fuel use in Australian fisheries, Journal of cleaner production, 87, 78-86.

Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 23:58
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2017 23:50
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