Rising fuel costs and dependency on petroleum has an effect on many food distribution systems. One that I have heard nobody talk about is the worlds fishing fleets. Currently most US commercial fishing operations rely on diesel power, and while it can be argued that bio fuels could replace diesel, replacing the source of protein sea food represents in the world's diet is not an option.
Could a commercial scale fishing trawler be designed on a sailing platform? I feel optimistic. Ships of all sizes have been plying the worlds oceans under sail for a lot longer than internal combustion has been around. With modern materials technology and the countless advances accrued during racing/pleasure boat research and development, I can imagine a viable renascence for sail powered professional mariners.
I would be very interested in seeing a cost/benefit analysis of such an operation. Catch storage would have to be slightly more prolonged, but advances in refrigeration technology could make a larger sailing ship/processor work. Or decentralize and have smaller boats that deliver to a powered processor at sea, making use of existing infrastructure while limiting resource consumption. With the decentralized model, the smaller sail powered work boats could stay at sea for decades or more, by exchanging crews during processor visits.
The world has gotten in such a hurry that it has forgotten that some of the solutions are readily available, if only we can learn a little more patience. Cars exponentially gain inefficiency as horsepower and top speed is increased. Airline travel seems a necessity when traveling over seas, but it was not that long ago when a trip from England to New York in under 60 days was a miraculous leap in technological advancement. We have taken for granted so many luxuries brought about by over consumption of the earths limited resources, it might be time to start really weighing out the costs.
But that might be a topic for another day. For now, I will dream of one day sailing the open ocean while hauling in a long line.