CC Zero Carbon Fishing



Please use our A-Z INDEX to navigate this site where page links may lead to other sites



A diesel powered fishing boat hauling in a catch in plastic nets


TRADITIONAL FISHING BOATS - According to a report published in January 2016, the average engine power of commercial fishing vessels is 701kW for the main engine and 55kW for the auxiliary engine [ICF International, 2009]. The average size of decked fishing vessels is 20GT (around 10–15m). Only a small fraction of vessels, 1% of the global fishing fleet, are larger than 100GT (or longer than 24m) (FAO, 2005, Fisheries and Aquaculture topics, Fishing vessels:


Globally, 88% of the installed main engines of commercial fishing vessels operate MSD, and 12% operate high speed diesel (HSD) engines [Trozzi, 2010]. Marine distillate oil (MDO, also called marine gas oil or MGO) is the most commonly used fuel for fishing boats and other MSD engines [ICF Consulting, 1999]. However, a small fraction of fishing boats use heavy fuel oil (HFO) [Trozzi, 2010].


Traditional fishing boats do not lend themselves to solar or wind assisted conversions. It requires a clean sheet of paper approach and a re-think of how to solve the problem of propulsion that is ultimately zero carbon, yet still provide an effective means of catching wild fish.


The SeaVax concept was designed to selectively fish for plastic to depths of 3 meters, but has long been seen as capable of modifications to fish for food deeper, and avoid rather than recycle marine plastic. If shipping is to comply with the IMO directives for 2030, 2040, 2050 and 2100, demanding incremental increases year on year until 100% of the international fleet is zero carbon for 2100, we must start looking at other ways of harvesting fish to feed the world to prevent global warming getting any worse.










2 - 60mm


Stage 1


4 - 18cm


7 - 9 cm

Stage 2


1 - 14 cm


14 - 45cm





Stage 3







30 - 60cm


30 - 120cm


70 - 200cm


120 - 190cm


50 - 4500cm


1250 - 7000cm


The above chart is where to start looking at fishing using more efficient species selective filter technology, in the process doing away with nets.





It's a triple hull workboat that is zero carbon, propelled only by the sun and the wind, following on from the development of a land based rig in 2019 that showed us what might be possible with relatively little in terms of R&D investment.





Operating a zero carbon fishing boat that uses no nets in the catching process, opens up a whole new era of sustainable opportunities in terms of the United Nations development goal: SDG14.


Nets are costly items that choke the ocean when discarded irresponsibly. The possibility of modifying a SeaVax head to allow for variable depth trawl of selected fish species holds the potential to alleviate ghost nets to some extent, though fishing with regular nets would also be a feature of the design.




A BIGGER PROBLEM - According to a report jointly produced by FAO and UNEP, fishing nets - also referred to as “ghost nets"- abandoned at sea remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years, and can result in the accidental capture of dolphins, turtles and other marine animals, which can die trapped in the mesh. Known as ghost fishing nets, experts have estimated that there are roughly 640 000 tonnes of these nets currently in our ocean, accounting for 10 percent of the total plastic waste in the sea.




The project is to design and build a small test bed incorporating moveable solar arrays and a wind turbine that may be raised, lowered and separately furled, each component being mounted on a common frame, with hydraulic actuators that are computer controlled to articulate individual movements.

This system is designed for a small 16 meter vessel of between 14.5 - 20 tonnes displacement (loading dependent), for coastal operation. The aim being to keep the budget for this research containable, yet still provide real-life tests.

Two 125kW (167hp total) dc motors might power such a vessel to provide ample reserve against tides, operating @ 90% efficiency to drive conventional, large, slowly revolving propellers.


The hull of the vessel will be of welded construction in 5083 alloy, in three sections as sub-assemblies in a trimaran fashion, or stabilised mono-hull design along similar principles to the Cable & Wireless Adventurer (Nigel Irens), in that slender hulls reduce wave drag, hence propulsive power. Such slender hulls would roll unacceptably without either a trimaran or catamaran  configuration to provide comfort for the operators. 

In adverse weather conditions such as storms, the solar arrays may be folded to near one third of their total spread when operating, also presenting as horizontal to the sea, so reducing wind-age to the bare minimum.




ANGULAR MOVEMENT - The picture shows the angle of rotation of the moveable wind turbines on a collapsible (space frame) mast that is raised and lowered using hydraulic rams. The wind turbines work with the solar panels using computers and sensors to maximize the collection of energy from nature. Design copyright © 21-09-19 Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd, all rights reserved.



Part of the project is mechanical design. In particular the stressing of such a super-structure above hull height to keep structural mass low, hence the center of roll. The superstructure is designed to provide a frame with bearing points well above the waves, to allow for a degree of movement necessary for the solar arrays to be able to track the sun and for the wind turbines to be free to move away and high above the solar arrays for best turbine performance, Stressing of the moveable mast is included in this project to be able to reach far above the deck is normal operation, so that the turbine blades are operating in undisturbed air. 




PLAN VIEW - This drawing shows 58 solar panels and 2 wind turbines to provide 16.7kW of generating power peak allied to a substantial battery bank. This specification can be upgraded. Please note that these drawings are Design Copyright © September 8 2019, and the hull configuration and energy harvesting system are patent protected.




Solar and wind energy systems have been used on vessels for well over a decade, but so far no harvesting system has combined the two energy sources into one compatible system at such a scale so as to become the primary propulsive force to be used for fishing.




ANGULAR MOVEMENT - The picture shows the angle of rotation of the moveable solar arrays. Design copyright © 21-09-19 Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd, all rights reserved.




ARRAYS FOLDED - The picture is an example of how the solar arrays fold over each other when stowed, seen in end elevation. See the plan view diagram below. Design copyright © 27-04-19 Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd, all rights reserved.




ARRAYS OPEN - This diagram shows the solar arrays in blue - open in plan view (from above) such that they present flat on to an overhead sun. Note no shading of the solar panels by the wind turbines when overhead, and that the turbines can be lowered and furled to prevent shading at different course headings. Design copyright © 29-04-19 Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.



Experimentation, including the incorporation of new ideas in combination is needed to push forward the boundaries of human knowledge. By incorporating the separate elements that are known to function to some degree individually, we may identify the successful elements of the design, to be set down as a test bed for further improvements. 


This research and development, if it is successfully demonstrated as described, offers one potential solution to the search sustainable fishing fleets of the future.


A bonus is that with selective fishing, bycatch is reduced and with the possibility of eliminating or reducing the need for plastic nets, that ghost nets might be significantly reduced.



VAWT - Vertical Axis Wind Turbines are the subject of investigation, with a new design that could bridge the gap between horizontal axis turbines in terms of power to weight ratio. Any advantage in terms of wind conversion is amplified by the ability to raise the blades higher into the air stream to escape the boundary layer at deck level. The front turbine is raised, the rear is lowered. They can also be furled.




VAWT - Vertical Axis Wind Turbines on the MulitiVax are seen here with the boat sailing towards us.




VAWT - Vertical Axis Wind Turbines are seen here at the midpoint between fully raised and fully lowered. They can be put in neutral to stop rotation.




ENERGY SECURITY - Such development could free us from the oil based economy currently fueling global warming, amid uncertainties of supply following the attack on Saudi Aramco. Drones bombed the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia and the Khurais oil field, operated by the state-owned Saudi Aramco on the 14th of September 2019. The plants produce nearly 6% of the world's oil, and half of Saudi's oil, with the attack cutting output by 5.7 million barrels a day. Energy stability holds the potential to quell many conflicts, as does food security. Solar assisted electric cars and solar powered shipping could help to reverse climate change and foster amicable international relations.




This is an unknown quantity at present. We are though interested in working with stakeholders to make this happen. The hull, solar and wind turbines and propulsion system will run in at around £350k. The design of the fishing head equipped with sensors and controls is likely to be at least three times that - at cost. We are a not for profit research company, enabling us to complete development at a fraction of the cost of commercial operations with shareholders and dividends. BMS does not pay dividends to shareholders and COF has no shares.



Multi-purpose ferry and sea or river plastic cleaning workboat


MULTI PURPOSE HARVESTER - This basic workboat design can be converted to ocean or river cleaning duties with a bolt on SeaVax head, here shown in red - or a net-free zero carbon fishing vessel. We have designed the hulls in such a way that the vessel can be configured to run in two directions - what is perceived as backwards being for plastic cleaning duties and fishing - or with alterations to the head, forwards for drag fishing. These drawings are Design Copyright © October 22 2019.




Fish is better than pork and beef - not just for your body, but for the planet. That’s long been the thinking, anyway. But a new study has uncovered a hidden climate impact of the fishing industry - one that, ironically, will get worse as boats switch to cleaner fuels. In some cases, the effect could make fishing for tuna as hard on the climate as raising pork, and trawling for shrimp about half as bad as raising beef.

Hogs and cattle get a bad rap because they - and their manure - emit a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. But the fishing industry also contributes to climate change: mostly from the carbon dioxide (CO2) from burned diesel fuel that persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. The boats produce other short-lived pollutants, such as sulfur oxides and black carbon, which have cooling and warming effects, respectively. But they have typically been neglected as unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

The new study may change that. Elliott Campbell and Brandi McKuin, environmental engineers at the University of California (UC), Merced, estimated fishing industry emissions by combining fisheries catch records with the amount of fuel typically needed to catch various species. Given the total burned fuel, they estimated the amounts of the pollutants, using information about engine types and fuel types. Black carbon, a form of soot that arises from incomplete combustion, has been underestimated by an order of magnitude in previous studies, the team reports in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

“That was the real eye-opener for me,” says Peter Tyedmers, an ecological economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who was not involved in the research.




BLACK CARBON - Fishing vessels were recently found to be the largest source of black carbon ship emissions in the Arctic, suggesting that the fishing sector should be a focus for future studies. Here we developed a global and Arctic emissions inventory for fishing vessel emissions of short lived and long lived climate forcers based on data from a wide range of vessel sizes, fuel sulfur contents, engine types, and operational characteristics. We found that previous work generally underestimated emissions of short lived climate forcers due to a failure to account for small fishing vessels as well as variability in emission factors. In particular, global black carbon emissions were underestimated by an order of magnitude. Furthermore, our order of magnitude estimate of the net climate effect from these fishing vessel emissions suggests that short lived climate forcing may be particularly important in regions where fuel has a low sulfur content. These results have implications for proposed maritime policies and provide a foundation for future climate simulations to forecast climate change impacts in the Arctic.



Black carbon warms the atmosphere because of its ability to absorb radiation from the sun, but its effect can be especially pernicious in polar regions, where, falling on bright ice, the soot diminishes the regions’ ability to reflect away heat. For now, however, in many parts of the world, Campbell and McKuin found that the warming effect of the black carbon is counteracted by the cooling effect of sulfur pollution. When burned, the sulfur-heavy fuels often used by fishing boats emit sulfur oxides, which are converted in the atmosphere into sulfate particles. These shiny aerosols reflect sunlight back to space, leaving Earth cooler. They also can seed the formation of clouds, which also reflect light.

But sulfur emissions, which are hazardous to human health and can lead to acid rain, are on the wane. The International Maritime Organization has adopted limits on sulfur emissions in places like the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and along the coasts of North America. Eventually, Campbell says, sulfur-heavy fuels could disappear altogether, and for good reason. “I think the quest to remove sulfur from fuels is inevitable and the right way to go.”

There will be a drawback to more regulation, however. The sulfur-cooling effect will go away, and some of the warming from black carbon will remain. Already, in areas where sulfur-rich fuels are regulated, the researchers find a significant extra warming effect over 20 years. They find that fishing for large pelagic animals - species like tuna or swordfish - warms the climate, pound for pound, as much as raising pork.





Still, even with the extra warming, small species such as herring or sardines represent a source of protein with climate costs that are nearly as low as beans and other high-protein vegetables, Tyedmers says. That’s because fishing ships can efficiently trap schools of small fish in nets near the shore, without burning much fuel. However, chasing larger species, such as tuna, requires longer trips and bursts of ship speed that burn more fuel. Trawling for crustaceans burns the most fuel because of the large amounts of engine force required to drag thin-meshed nets along the sea floor.

One take-home message for consumers is that, just as milk doesn’t come from a carton, fish don’t come from a can. “People don’t realize how much time boats are spending trawling around,” says Jennifer Burney, an environmental scientist at UC San Diego who was not a party to the study, and she’s not surprised to see the high climate costs of crustaceans and large pelagic species. Yet overall, she says, emissions from fishing pale in comparison to industries on land, such as power generation from coal plants.

Burney is examining a similar trade-off between sulfur and black carbon in the United States, as coal-fired electricity plants shift to cleaner natural gas, which emits half as much CO2 as coal per unit of electricity. Emissions of both sulfur and black carbon will go down with the switch, which means that the power industry will lose small short-term cooling and warming effects, in addition to gaining the larger long-term cooling effect of lower CO2 emissions.

But which of the two small effects will dominate? In unpublished research, Burney says it’s the sulfur. “You’re taking away more cooling by removing the sulfate,” she says. So when you cook your fish on an electric stove, take a deep breath and be thankful for the clean, sulfur-free air - but know that your actions pack an extra climate wallop. By Eric Hand






A research team has found that 46 percent of the plastic in the patch by weight came from one source: fishing nets. Other fishing industry gear came in a close second.

The patch, in fact, is made up mostly of abandoned fishing gear. According to the study, fishing nets alone make up 46 percent of the 79,000 tons of garbage. The rest of it is also largely made up of fishing gear, including eel traps, oyster spacers, crates, baskets, and ropes.

“I knew there would be a lot of fishing gear, but 46 percent was unexpectedly high,” Laurent Lebreton, an oceanographer and the lead author of the study told National Geographic. “Initially, we thought fishing gear would be more in the 20 percent range. That is the accepted number [for marine debris] globally—20 percent from fishing sources and 80 percent from land.”

“The interesting piece is that at least half of what they’re finding is not consumer plastics, which are central to much of the current debate, but fishing gear,” George Leonard, the chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy, told National Geographic. “This study is confirmation that we know abandoned and lost gear is an important source of mortality for a whole host of animals and we need to broaden the plastic conversation to make sure we solve this wedge of the problem.”

Fishing nets are not only damaging as waste, when the nets are active, unintended animals — bycatch — can become trapped in the sometimes mile-long webs of plastic. Animals can find their way into the abandoned nets as well, becoming tangled and suffocated in the ghost gear.

"Those nets are fishing 24/7. They are killing everything, from fish, crustaceans, mammals, sea lions, dolphins. It is indiscriminate," Hamza said.

An estimated 25,000 nets are discarded annually in the Northeast Atlantic alone, according to World Animal Protection.

"Some studies estimate that over 90% of species caught in DFG (derelict fishing gear) are of commercial value," which results in a loss of revenue for fishermen, said a 2015 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.



A new plan to protect our seas from 'ghost fishing' has been overwhelmingly backed by the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee today.

The vote is a significant boost to Conservative MEP John Flack's campaign to reduce the number of abandoned fishing nets as MEPs begin to debate the European Commission's plastic strategy. Mr Flack believes that his measures should be included in the EU's drive to end plastic waste.




- Unlike synthetic fishing nets, biodegradable fishing nets decompose naturally under water after a certain period of time. Coconut fibre (coir) fishing nets are commercially made and are hence a practical solution that can be used by fishermen once there are suitable incentives.

- Technology systems, for marking and tracking fishing gear, including GPS tracking, are being trailed to promote greater accountability and transparency, potentially with the culprits being fined if they do not report losing a net.





Zero Carbon Shipping projects coordinator contact point




Nelson Kay

Project Development

Climate Change Challengers

Cleaner Ocean Foundation &

Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd

Solar Studios


United Kingdom







Please use our A-Z INDEX to navigate this site

 The English Channel is a proving ground for sea crossings using solar and wind powered ships





Anchovies | Bass | Bream | Catfish | Clams | Cod Coley | Crabs | Crayfish | Eels | Grouper | Haddock | Hake | Halibut | Herring | Jellyfish

Krill | Lobster | Mackerel | Marlin | Monkfish | Mullet | Mussels | Oysters | Perch | Plaice | Pollock | Prawns | Rays | Sablefish | Salmon

Sardines | Scallops | Sharks | Shrimp | Skate | Sole | Sprat | Squid | Sturgeon | Swordfish | Trout | Tuna | Turbot | Whiting



 This website is provided on a free basis as a public information service. copyright © Climate Change Trust 2019. Solar Studios, BN271RF, United Kingdom.