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EU Blue Economy Observatory

It also stated that diesel is more efficient if other factors are considered, not only emissions. Other concerns are limited space available onboard a vessel; the lack of suitable port infrastructure; and the need for training.

In France, a discussion amongst its fishing sector recognised that the high price of diesel jeopardises the economy of French fishing but that there is currently no significant practical solution to reduce the carbon footprint of this sector. In any case, it is in the fishers’ interest to reduce their consumption, since fuel typically represents 20% to 25% of a vessel’s turnover. Now, it is more like 40%-50%. The sector had already made efforts to reduce consumption via, for example, the Amarrée programme3, with savings between 5%-15%. For a significant energy transition, the fishing sector considered it necessary to exceed or change certain regulatory criteria. For example, because a hydrogen-powered engine would require up to 5x more space than a current diesel one, and with no other modifications permitted, there would be a need for a consequent reduction in the volume available to store fish. In turn, and for some vessels, this may necessitate more voyages to catch the same volume of fish. Another issue identified is the lack of scale, e.g. transferring prototypes to more widespread, sea-proven use.

What follows is an outline of developments and practical examples currently existing, both in the wider shipping sector with the potential for technology transfer, and specific to fishing and aquaculture. It complements the previous analysis4 which looked at the various technical means to reduce fuel consumption and summarised the different approaches and the reported gains in fuel saving. The summary table from this analysis is duplicated in the Annex.

Clearly not all options can apply to all vessels and practices, instead the examples given should be seen as outlining some current best available techniques5 or approaches6. In turn, they can serve to provide inspiration for developing tailor-made solutions to a specific vessel or fleet or application. Performing an energy audit7 on a vessel, for example, would identify which techniques/modifications/change of practices/etc. May be best suited when done in combination with a cost-benefit analysis8.

As a complementary measure, there is a need for the provision of training on energy transition. For aquaculture, at least, the project EWEAS, co-funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ programme, developed an e-learning training program for aquaculture specialists based on a guidebook they developed9.

1.COM/2021/240 final

2.Whilst it is estimated that CO2 emissions from international shipping amount to around 800 million tonnes of CO2 per year, represent- ing approximately 2-3% of total global CO2 emissions (Source: European Commission, SWD(2020) 82 final), that from fishing vessels (including inland vessels) is estimated to be about 172 million tonnes or 0.5% (Source: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 627). The annual fuel consumption of the EU’s fishing fleet leads to the emission of roughly 5.2 million tonnes of CO2 (Source: European Commission, EU Blue Economy Report 2022).

3.Accompagnement des MARins pêcheurs pour la Réalisation d’Économies d’Énergie (Amarrée), See Section 3.1 for more details.

4.See Climate change and the Common Fisheries Policy: adaptation and building resilience to the effects of climate change on fisheries and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from fishing, including its Annex 26, July 2022,

5.Best Available Techniques (BAT) are an established approach used, in an EU context, to identify the available techniques which are the best for preventing or minimising emissions and impacts on the environment, see…

6.Complementary advice is also available from, for example,the North Sea Advisory Council, see…, as well as the submissions to the Call for Evidence for the Energy Transition of Fisheries and Aquaculture Action Plan, see….

7.See, for example, Basurko et al., Energy performance of fishing vessels and potential savings, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 54, 2013,

8.In 2023, DG MARE will commission a study to analyse the economic and environmental costs and benefits of clean energy technologies and strategies that can be used for the Energy Transition of fisheries and aquaculture.

9.Evaluation and Improvement of the Energy Efficiency of Installations in the European Aquaculture Sector. Course material and guidebook available from