When it comes to sustainability in the commercial fishing industry, energy consumption might not be the first issue that comes to mind – but fuel is a major contributor not only to an operation’s total costs, but also to its carbon footprint. The right fishing gear can play an important role in reducing emissions, so Dyneema® asked Triple Value, a consulting firm specialized in sustainability, to quantify the impact of switching to Dyneema® fiber on commercial fishing vessels. The results were eye-opening…

Diamond Background

Research on the Faxi RE 9

The first of two studies was run on the Faxi RE 9 trawler, operated by Reykjavik-based HB Grandi, one of the largest fishing companies in Iceland. This 67-meter ship has an annual landing of over 35,000 tonnes of fish, mostly herring, from the North Atlantic – and an annual diesel consumption of around 3,000 tonnes. For the research, HB Grandi kept 100% steel warps on board, but switched to 100% Dyneema® for its sweeps and bridles and a mix of Dyneema® and nylon for the nets and net ropes.

These changes enabled the Faxi RE 9 to cut its annual fuel bill by 10%: a considerable saving on its previous €1.1 million yearly spend. Importantly, the reduction in the trawler’s carbon footprint was also notable, with emissions decreasing from 2,416 to 2,172 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The difference – equivalent to the annual emissions of 96 cars – was almost entirely accounted for by the fuel savings. What’s more, not only were emissions of respiratory organics cut by another 10%, but overall energy consumption on the Faxi RE 9 fell from over 32,000 to under 29,000 GJ per trawl – with this difference corresponding to the energy usage of about 50 households in the Netherlands.

Diamond Background

The Antarctic Killybeg story

The 50-meter Antarctic Killybeg, operated by the Antarctic Fishing Company in Donegal, Ireland, has an annual landing of some 6,000 tonnes, mostly mackerel, caught in the North-East Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay. It consumes under 500 tonnes of diesel per year. Prior to the study, the Antarctic Killybeg used steel warps, sweeps, and bridles and nylon nets and net ropes. In the new configuration, the nets remained 100% nylon, while the warps, sweeps, and bridles were changed to a combination of steel and Dyneema® and the ropes in the nets to Dyneema® in combination with some nylon.

So what was the impact of the new mix? First, fuel savings of 8–10%, depending on the depth at which the trawler was fishing. Over the course of a year, this cut the vessel’s fuel bill by 10% (about €17,500). Meanwhile, the ship’s carbon footprint during fishing fell by 40% – from 479 to just 287 tCO2e per trawl – saving emissions equivalent to those emitted by 76 cars over the course of a year.

There was more good news: using gear made with Dyneema® fibers precisely halved consumption related to fuel during fishing from 4,832 to 2,416 GJ per trawl. Finally, this Dyneema®-based equipment led to a reduction in other hazardous emissions from the trawler, with volumes of respiratory inorganics (NOx, SOx, fine particles) also being virtually halved.

Good for the environment; good for fishing

HB Grandi and the Antarctic Fishing Company aren’t the only fishing operators to have embraced the switch to more sustainable Dyneema® equipment. In the Netherlands in 2011, two Cornelis Vrolijk ships were kitted out with pelagic trawls constructed from 90% Dyneema®, made by Maritiem BV. After positive results in testing showed these thinner trawls meant less resistance, lower fuel consumption, and reduced CO2 emissions, the company quickly rolled out the change to more vessels. But that wasn’t all: the additional benefits of the lightweight Dyneema® solutions over the nylon incumbents included easier and safer handling, greater trawler responsiveness, and improved durability – quickly making them Dyneema® a firm favorite among the Cornelis Vrolijk crews.

Low-weight solutions to tackle high emission

These datasets represent the first time the environmental footprints of different materials in commercial fishing gear have been measured – and it’s an extremely promising starting point for the industry.

The physical properties of Dyneema®, with its low weight and high strength, give it major advantages over steel wire and other synthetic fibers in netting and ropes. We’ve always believed this would help contribute to more sustainable fishing, and now we have real data to prove it.

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