Trawl gear programming reduces Gulf of Mexico shrimpers’ operational costs
Diesel engines power the majority of fishing vessels in the United States, and diesel fuel is the largest component of operating costs on Gulf shrimp vessels. To survive, shrimpers need to increase fuel efficiency to decrease operational costs.
The use of energy-efficient trawl gear with less drag can reduce fuel costs. The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) conducted field research and documented the fuel savings and catch retention associated with available energy-efficient trawl gear and more efficient turtle excluder/bycatch reduction devices. To inform decision-making, MASGC shared the results with fishermen through gear demonstrations at dockside visits and as part of other outreach efforts. Vietnamese-Americans with limited English language skills own and operate a large percentage of the offshore fishing fleet in the northern Gulf. An MASGC staff member used his Vietnamese language skills to reach this underserved clientele group.
Over 20 shrimp vessels have adopted the use of energy-efficient trawl gear. All reported fuel savings similar to the field trials, and most have continued to use the gear. Based on conservative estimates of fuel savings (1.5 gallons per hour, a 12-hour fishing day, 180 days per year and fuel cost of $3 per gallon), each vessel is saving about $10,000 a year in operating costs. Cost savings continue to accrue and are greater with rising fuel costs. Total savings to the fleet has topped $1 million since the program’s inception.
MASGC programming leads Gulf shrimp fishermen to adopt of energy-efficient trawl gear and save over $1 million in operating costs. (2013)