Every sector has a role to play in transitioning to net-zero, including the UK’s fishing fleet. Our new report - Electrifying the Fleet - presents new findings and a route forward to decarbonise the sector.

The report was developed in collaboration with WWF, RSPB, the NFFO, North Sea Wildlife Trusts and the University of Hull.

What role does the fishing sector play in achieving net zero?

During a time of energy security concerns and with the nature and climate crises worsening, now is the moment to modernise the UK’s fishing fleet.

Powering fisheries currently relies heavily on fossil fuel use – in 2016 fishing fleets globally released the equivalent emissions from 51 coal fired power plants into the atmosphere.

Inefficient fleet structures, government fuel subsidies and a lack of support to decarbonise the fishing sector prevent a green route forward.

However, with ambitious policies and investment from UK governments, we have the opportunity to ensure food security and meet our climate and nature commitments.

Coley shoal Glanmire Scotland Kirsty Andrews

Credit: Kirsty Andrews

What are the report findings?

  • Technology to reduce harmful fuel use and cut emissions already exists today, and many fishers have shown interest in switching to a more sustainable hybrid system if it's affordable.
  • The current licensing system encourages the use of fuel-inefficient, short, wide boats. If updated to focus less on length we could see significant energy and emissions reductions.
  • To meet our climate commitments, improvements in battery technology, or alternative fuels using renewable energy, will be most likely to lead the way. Port infrastructure will need to be modernised to meet increased demand for power.
  • There isn’t a one size fits all model and solutions will vary from one location to another.
Fishing boat at Newlyn harbour Cornwall Natasha Ewins

Credit: Natasha Ewins

What can UK governments do?

A number of short, medium and long-term solutions will be needed to create a road map to electrify the UK’s fishing fleet.

Critically, we need to see UK governments commit to a date to set out a climate smart fisheries strategy, which details a route forward to decarbonise the fishing fleet, within the coming Joint Fisheries Statement in 2022.