Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery Industry Development Subprogram: development and implementation of an energy audit process for Australian fishing vessels

Project Number:



Australian Maritime College (AMC)

Principal Investigator:

John Wakeford

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





The Australian (and New Zealand) Fishing Industry requires assistance in becoming a more efficient user of energy. Some forms of fishing, such as trawling, expend more fuel per kg of fish landed compared to others (i.e. passive methods such as longlining and trap fishing). In each case however, rising fuel prices still impinge on the profitability of the operation, and ultimately put its viability in jeopardy. The Australian Fishing industry has to undertake an energy audit. This is not a new process. Land-based businesses, both large and small, have been doing this for years. Some good results have been achieved. Importantly, it has been proven to work. Even in businesses where managers and owners are convinced they are very efficient energy users. So why do energy audits usually lead to tangible benefits for the businesses undertaking them? Well, put simply, running a business such as fishing boat, keeps people busy, and as much as these people try to keep abreast of technological improvements and alternative methods that can reduce energy usage, they usually escape detection or adoption for some time. In contrast, qualified auditors are in the business of saving energy. They draw on data from previous audits on similar businesses, have a supporting base of well-qualified technical advisors in relevant areas, and may draw on government assistance. Government agencies such as the Sustainable Energy Authority and EPA support energy audits because they do have the potential to reduce energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions, and importantly make Australian businesses more competitive. Governments also realise that audits typically draw a taskforce of suitably qualified people together, which over time can be expanded and enhanced. Ultimately this strengthens the foundation of the industry it services. Supporting this project will therefore assist with achieving these benefits.


1. 1. Adapt an existing land-based-infrastructure energy-audit process to suit certain types of fishing vessel.

2. 2. Undertake a trial energy audit (Level 1 and possibly Level 2, see Appendix 1) of up to six different types of fishing vessel.

3. 3. Present the tailored audit process, the audit findings, the energy management matrixes for each vessel type, and also provide recommendations for future work.

Final Report - 2006/229 - Development and Implementation of an Energy Audit Process for Australian Fishing Vessels

Final Report
ISBN:978 1 86295 594 3
Author(s):John Wakeford
Date Published:December 2010
Principal Investigator: J. Wakeford

Key Words: Energy, audit, efficiency, fishing, fuel.


Commercial fishing vessels are reliant on fuel energy for a number of reasons; to power/propel fishing vessels to the fishing grounds, to power winches and other machinery used to deploy/haul and control the fishing gear, to provide power to support systems for crewmembers, and to keep the fish in a fresh condition with the aid of refrigeration. Rising diesel prices have the fishing industry concerned as they not only erode profits, but in some cases put excessive financial strain on the fishing business to the point where it is not viable to fish.


Energy audits are an effective way of obtaining a clearer idea of how energy is used in a business, and to subsequently identify ways of reducing the energy consumption level and associated cost. For this reason, an energy audit process for fishing vessels was developed,and then subsequently trialled on a number of different fishing vessels. The process proved satisfactory, although difficulties were encountered when it came to assembling the necessary historical data (fish landings, revenue from fish sales, quantities of fuel used and the associated expense, fishing time and/or engine running hours) for undertaking a Level 1 audit. Synchronising fuel usage with production also proved to be difficult when using fuel dockets and fish sale receipts. Of the vessels audited, those which gained the most were the ones that were more fastidious with their record/book keeping, as this permitted a more in-depth analysis to be performed.


The results from the level 1 `walkthrough‟ or `opportunity‟ audits confirmed that passive fishing gears are less energy intensive than active forms of fishing, and furthermore that these methods are less susceptible to rising diesel prices. It was also apparent between the vessels audited that some fishing businesses need to be pro-active and become more energy efficient before the next hike in fuel prices. The audits also revealed where efforts to improve energy efficiency are best directed. For example, a West Australian prawn trawler was directed towards using more hydro-dynamically efficient otterboards; based on the data analysed, the payback period was inside one year, indicating this was a worthwhile investment.


Intuitively, as the pool of energy audit information on Australian fishing vessels grows it should be possible to identify in what areas research and development is most needed, and embark on a long term program to build up the necessary pool of technical expertise.