Environmental and Economic Dimensions of Fuel Use in Australian Fisheries

R. W. R. Parker, K. Hartmann, B. S. Green, C. Gardner, R. A. Watson, (2015). Journal of Cleaner Production 87, 78-86.

Fuel, australia, Fisheries, Fisheries, Fuel, Fuel consumption, Carbon footprint, Life cycle assessment, Oil prices

10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.09.081, http://www.ecomarres.com/downloads/Fuel_Parker.pdf

Fisheries globally are facing multiple sustainability challenges, including low fish stocks, overcapacity, unintended bycatch and habitat alteration. Recently, fuel consumption has joined this list of challenges, with increasing consumer demand for low-carbon food production and the implementation of carbon pricing mechanisms. The environmental impetus for improving fishery fuel performance is coupled with economic benefits of decreasing fuel expenditures as oil prices rise. Management options to improve the fuel performance of fisheries could satisfy multiple objectives by providing low-carbon fish products, improving economic viability of the industry, and alleviating pressure on overfished stocks. We explored the association of fuel consumption and fuel costs in a wide range of Australian fisheries, tracking trends in consumption and expenditure over two decades, to determine if there is an economic impetus for improving the fuel efficiency and therefore carbon footprint of the industry. In the years studied, Australian fisheries, particularly energy-intensive crustacean fisheries, consumed large quantities of fuel per kilogram of seafood product relative to global fisheries. Many fisheries improved their fuel consumption, particularly in response to increases in biomass and decreases in overcapacity. Those fisheries that improved their fuel consumption also saw a decrease in their relative fuel expenditure, partially counteracted by rising oil prices. Reduction in fuel use in some Australian fisheries has been substantial and this has resulted not from technological or operational changes but indirectly through fisheries management. These changes have mainly resulted from management decisions targeting ecological and economic objectives, so more explicit consideration of fuel use may help in extending these improvements.