Fuel Efficiency

The high cost of fuel has had a significant impact on community-based fishing in Alaska. In a 2009 survey conducted by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, 63% of fishermen said that their fuel costs have more than doubled in the past 5 years. Reducing fuel consumption is a vital part of ensuring the longevity of local fisheries in Alaska, as well as conserving the environment. 

When fuel costs rise:

✶ Fishermen may fish less often, or stop fishing entirely

✶ Captains are less likely to hire crew or are unable to compensate them fairly

✶ Economic development is hindered in Alaska

Learn more, and find out how to join our efforts:

Our Work

Fuel Efficiency Fast Facts

Simple Steps to Improving Fuel Efficiency

Get Involved

Photo credit: Graham Kraft 2018

Photo credit: Graham Kraft 2018


Our Work

Since 2013, ALFA’s Fisheries Conservation Network has been tapping local traditions of marine stewardship, working to find ways that boats can operate while using less fuel. By increasing the efficiency of their vessels, fishermen can save on fuel costs and lower the environmental impact of pollutants released while operating.

ALFA has helped local fishermen to install fuel flow meters and data loggers and has used the data collected to build a fuel efficiency audit and make recommendations for improving fuel efficiency. This work was carried out in partnership with the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, Alaris Company marine engineers, and individual vessel operators, with support from the Oak Foundation. 

Energy conservation measures drawn from the first stage of the project are summarized in this report, which you can download for free. 

A self-guided energy audit tool (click the button below to download), which is intended for use by a broad spectrum of small to mid-sized commercial Alaska fishing vessel operators, allows operators to assess the efficiency of their vessel on a yearly basis and inform cost-effective energy conservation methods to reduce their fuel use and costs. 

Contact Dan Falvey at myriadfisheries@gmail.com for information about using our self-guided energy audit tool. 

Fuel Efficiency Fast Facts

In a 2009 survey conducted by the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory program:

• 63% of fishermen said their fuel costs have more than doubled in the past 5 years

• 33% said they had quit fishing earlier in the season

• 31% said they skipped fishing opening they would otherwise have fished

• 7% said they fished with other IFQ permit holders, thus eliminating crew jobs

• 80% who did fish with a crew said the increased cost of fuel reduced the share paid to crew

Simple steps to improving Fuel Efficiency

• Reduce the vessel weight. Weight control manages the amount of power necessary to achieve a certain speed.

• Maintain bottom of vessel. In order to reduce drag, keep the bottom of the boat as smooth as possible by removing marine growth and any other unnecessary elements.

• Check the exhaust. Exhaust from a well-maintained diesel engine is almost invisible.

• Check the prop. Bent blades, dings, or eroded edges cause the boat to consume more fuel.

• Plan the route and timing. Taking advantage of tides, currents, and predicted winds can easily save a lot of fuel.

• Only use stabilizers when necessary. At low speeds, the paravanes don’t create much drag, but at speeds above 4 knots, for example in transit, using stabilizers drastically decreases efficiency

• Slow down. Our fuel efficiency audit demonstrated that increasing speeds greatly increases the power necessary to move the boat, and with it the amount of fuel consumed. Decreasing your speed by just 1 knot could reduce your cost by as much as 50%.

Get Involved

The more fishermen that are involved with these projects, the better data and recommendations we can collect. Getting involved with improved fuel efficiency in Sitka and SE Alaska won’t just save you money, it’ll benefit the rest of the fleet and the planet!

Interested in filling out a fuel efficiency audit to learn more about your vessel's fuel consumption? Contact Dan Falvey at myriadfisheries@gmail.com for more information. 

For more information, visit the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program Website, or check out these handy Sea Grant links:

Fuel Saving Measures on Your Fishing Industry Vessel

Lower Your Fuel Costs: Fuel efficiency tips

Definitions, conversions and equations for energy audits