Pratiques de pêche responsables pour une pêche durable

Fuel Saving: increasing profits in the Sri Lankan fishing industry


Date: 22 May 2024   

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

This week, 28 multi-day fishing vessel owners, boat builders and government fishery officials gathered in Colombo to discuss fuel savings options for long-line vessels in Sri Lanka. “Increasing fuel prices have impacted profits of fishers as well as fish prices for local consumers in Sri Lanka”, said additional secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries, Mr Dammika Ranathunga.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Ministry of Fisheries of Sri Lanka organized a Workshop on Fuel Savings in the Fisheries sector. Several ways for saving fuel were presented. Innovations discussed included introducing a bulbous bow on vessels, modern fuel-efficient engines, and improvements of rudder, propellor, and hull design. Other practices included the application of anti-fouling coating below the water line, and installation of a hull bottom air lubrication systems. 

The workshop presented the design, testing, construction, and benefits of the bulbous bow.  An FAO prototype has been installed on a longline vessel belonging to Mr Ruwan Fernando (Chilaw fisheries district). This newly developed bulbous bow was tested in a water tank at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (Spain) and constructed at Cey-Nor Foundation shipyard in Colombo. Sea trial data recorded a fuel savings of 11 to 13 percent so far and can yield even better results when operated at speeds between 7 to 8 knots. 

Vessel with with bulbous bow picture

Mr Derrick Menezes, naval architect of FAO, pointed out that “annual fuel savings for an average longline fishing vessel in Sri Lanka would be in the range of 1150 liters per fishing trip, which would mean a cost saving at current prices of some 1.5 million LKR per vessel per year”. He added that the construction and installation of the bulbous bow would cost approximately 1.8 million LKR, recoverable in 4 to 6 fishing trips”. The bulbous bow is both a technically and financially feasible investment, increasing the seakeeping and profitability of multiday fishing vessels.  Mr Aravinda, Fisheries officer at the Sri Lankan Department of Fisheries mentioned that there are 508 multiday longliner vessels between 45 to 55 ft in length that could potentially be suitable for installation of the available bulbous bow design. 

Dr. Raymon van Anrooy, FAO senior fishery officer, presented initial economic information on long line vessels performance in 2023, indicating that running costs and labour costs were respectively 55 percent and 27 percent of total operating costs. He mentioned that the average longliner was profitable in 2023 with an estimated net profit margin of 23 percent and a return on investment (ROI) of 22 percent. The gross value added of the multiday longliner fleet to the Sri Lankan economy he estimated at around 50 billion LKR in 2023.

The workshop also discussed vessel safety and construction weaknesses observed in some fishing vessels.  Dr. Van Anrooy informed the audience of the opportunities to reduce reliance on fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) vessels.  The FRP hulls of the vessels impose pollution and disposal hazards at the end of their life cycle.  Alternatively High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) boats could be a solution for small fishing vessels up to 12 meters. This material is less prone to damage, 100% recyclable and requires less maintenance while in service.  

Mr Sarath Premalal, FAO project manager, closed the workshop. He emphasized the need to modernize the fishing fleet, adapt to the challenges of climate change and invest in fuel saving technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the fishing industry.

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