Published: 9 December 2022 Updated: 16 December 2022


Rising fuel and energy costs and the drive toward a low carbon future are increasing pressure on wild catch, aquaculture and post-harvest industries and communities. They face considerable challenges in adapting current  processes and infrastructure, particularly when significant up-front capital investment is required. Other challenges include (but are not limited to); barriers passing costs onto consumers, technical limitations of equipment and logistics, and growing consumer demand for sustainable products. Irrespective of the sector or context however, there is an urgent need to develop alternative fuel options, energy efficient technology and carbon-conscious processes. 

Though daunting, this does create an exciting opportunity to come together and share learnings and solutions across the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. In doing so we can design a future proof way forward, ensuring a rapid, cohesive shift to a low carbon and energy efficient future. Businesses may reduce operating costs in the long-term and gain a marketing advantage when demonstrating their sustainability credentials. Recreational and indigenous communities can reduce their ecological impact while still maintaining a strong cultural and social connection with the aquatic environment.  

To realise this vision, a diversity of market-ready alternative fuel and energy options and energy efficiency strategies is required. Static green power generation options like wind, solar, wave and tidal are rapidly becoming more affordable and adaptable. For mobile energy sources, there are exciting developments in batteries, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, biodiesel, among others. Some of these are more market ready than others and depending on the context, many nuanced adaptations will be needed to ensure the maximum value is realised. Just as critical will be improvements in marine forecasting, fisheries planning and market connectivity, to help minimise wasted trips and improve delivery of products and services. 

Research, Development and Extension investment has an important role to play in developing the knowledge around renewables and energy efficiency. FRDC, through its R&D Plan 2020-2025 and Annual Operating Plans is committed to supporting the development of this knowledge. Our investment history includes ongoing research into alternative fuels, energy efficient techniques and equipment, and climate change conscious fisheries modelling.   

Listed below are specific FRDC investments and partnerships that respond to the challenges and opportunities about improving energy efficiency and renewable use in the sector.  


FRDC Investments 

Key recent investments include: 



FRDC is also partnering extensively with other Research Development Corporations, including (but not limited to): 

  • Future Fuels CRC - “Through collaboration and outcome focussed research, we will enable Australia’s energy sector to adapt its infrastructure to net zero emissions fuels by providing new knowledge and facilitating its use by industry”. 

  • Blue Economy CRC - “Through targeted industry-focussed research and training, the Blue Economy CRC paves the way for innovative, commercially viable and sustainable offshore developments and new capabilities”. 

There are numerous federal, state and local government initiatives and programs dedicated to reducing carbon emissions and increasing the resilience of Australian industries to climate change. These include: 

  • DCCEEW Emissions Reduction Fund - The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) offers landholders, communities and businesses the opportunity to run projects in Australia that avoid the release of greenhouse gas emissions or remove and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.   

  • Clean Energy Finance Corporation - The CEFC is a specialist investor at the centre of efforts to help deliver on Australia’s ambitions for a thriving, low emissions future. With a strong investment track record, we are committed to accelerating our transition to net zero emissions by 2050. 

  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency - Our purpose is to support the global transition to net zero emissions by accelerating the pace of pre-commercial innovation, to the benefit of Australian consumers, businesses and workers. 

  • NSW Net Zero Industry and Innovation By accelerating the development of clean technology and decarbonisation, we can lay the foundations to significantly reduce emissions and help industry prosper.    

  • NSW Seafood innovation Fund The Seafood Innovation Fund provides commercial fishers and aquaculture farmers with low-interest loans to: 

  • help them identify and address risks to their business 

  • improve permanent assets and infrastructure 

  • ensure long term productivity and sustainable use of the marine, estuarine and land-based environment. 

  • QLD EcoBiz small and medium business coach service to increase efficiency and cost savings 


FRDC Resources 

FRDC Fish Vol. 22-1: Fuel for the Future The diverse potential of algae across fuel and food production industries should make them a top priority for research and development globally 

FRDC Fish Vol. 23-1: Twine designs tied to improved fuel efficiency Thinner twine combined with a different trawl configuration and otter boards incorporating efficient sails should reduce trawl system drag by more than 35 per cent, new research shows 

FRDC Fish Vol 27-4: The Innovation Frontier The latest phase of innovation is one more in the long history of human development that has allowed society to progress as we find easier, more efficient and more productive ways to do things, such as producing food and managing fisheries 

FRDC Fish Vol 29-1: Management and technology deliver fishery confidence Australian Longline’s new $40 million, state-of-the-art fishing vessel makes a bold statement about the company’s confidence in the future of fishing  

FRDC Fish Vol 26-1: Voyage to an Electric Future Smarter technology could be the drawcard that brings new respect and a new generation to the fishing industry  

Austral Press Release: The Cape Arkona Departs Norway for Fremantle


Related projects 

Energy efficiency 

Project Number Title Status
2021-089 Climate Resilient Wild Catch Fisheries Current
2020-089 Energy use and carbon emissions assessments in the Australian fishing and aquaculture sectors: Audit, self-assessment and guidance tools for footprint reduction  Completed
2011-229 Empowering Industry: Energy Audit of Prawn Trawler with Auxiliary Sail Power Completed


Old Men: Older Boats Electric Drive, Power Storage and Power Generation in Commercial Fishing Vessels Completed
2007-200 SESSF Industry Development Subprogram: alternative fuels for fishing vessels Completed
2006-229 Development and implementation of an energy audit process for Australian fishing vessels Completed
2005-239 Fishing energy efficiency review for the FRDC



Climate change sensitive fisheries management  

Project Number Title Status
2021-104 Applying the fisheries climate adaptation handbook to Australia's state fisheries Current
2016-059 Guidance on Adaptation of Commonwealth Fisheries management to climate change Completed