Gone With The Wind

As the rising cost of fuel threatens to force fishing communities out of business, commercial fishermen across the UK are fitting auxiliary sails on their vessels in order to decrease their dependency on diesel.

While the price of red diesel has doubled since October last year, fish prices have remained fairly stable. In response, several skippers are now using sails to power their boats to and from the often-long distances between the port and their fishing grounds.

Once used as a way of picking up extra speed, fishermen abandoned auxiliary sails in the early 1980s when new engines were introduced that could generate much greater power.

Commenting on the re-introduction of sails, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organization chief executive, Barrie Deas, stated ‘Skippers are putting on foresails while steaming to fishing grounds offshore. The whole cost structure of the industry has shifted so dramatically as a result of fuel price rises, and in response, vessels are looking at what they can do to reduce costs’.

He added ‘Fleets are going to have to find ways of reducing fuel dependency. Everyone is looking for the optimum steaming speed and people are looking at a whole range of measures, including sail’.

Fisherman Roly Kirby from Helford River in Cornwall, UK, has managed to save up to a fifth of his weekly spending on fuel after adding a sail to the 20ft mast of his vessel.

At present, the addition of sails on vessels is restricted to small and medium sized boats. However, there are plans to increase the use of wind power for larger and more powerful fishing boats in the UK, such as beam trawlers, which can generate weekly fuel costs of up to £12,000.

The Telegraph

Victoria Blackshaw
[email protected]

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