Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fishing in the future.

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. 

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested to know that not only is there a lot of research on the topic of utilizing wind power on large ships, but there are some out there operating already. You may not recall, but when you were very young and we were sailing to Mexico, we were met and passed by a modern sailing ship with computer controlled sails, etc.

    Also of interest in this regard, is the British Admiralty chart detailing 300 years of weather and ocean current summaries and the consequent patterns which a ship of any size or design can use to reduce fuel consumption or simply to sail. A careful study of this and trip planning to take full advantage of the data would be crucial to the realization of your dream. You may find my old copy of the chart in the chart locker of the Oriane, with a bit of luck.