Tuesday 8. March 2022

Socio-economic aspects of energy transitions in small-boat fisheries

We are happy to announce that UW has received funding from Iceland’s National Power Company‘s Energy and Environment Grant for a project entitled “Socio-economic aspects of energy transitions in small-boat fisheries”. The project is lead by UW research manager Dr. Catherine Chambers, who has long standing experience in research regarding small-scale fisheries management and coastal communities.

Alternative fuels and energy transitions are a popular topic these days, and much focus is placed on technological changes, engineering shortcomings, or structural capacity. However there is also much-needed information on socio-economic aspects of energy changes. Small boats may be easier to re-outfit with new technologies, and the captains have good knowledge to adapt to different technologies, but transitions research is also about trying to predict what we don’t know. We can build the perfect alternative fuel fishing boat, but can and will the fishers use it?

In the fishers opinion, is there a need for alternative energy in small boats, and if so, what options exist? How do fishers form their knowledge of alternative fuels – could options that work in other places work in Iceland (battery powered boats, biodiesel, etc)? How can we measure the willingness/abilitiy of the small-boat fleet to adopt new technologies? What are the bottlenecks of adopting new technologies? What support is needed (money, training, other incentives, etc?) How could the current seaman‘s schooling and safety training be affected by a rapid change in technology? How would on-shore support services change, specifically in rural communities? How would the market change for fisheries products caught using alternative energy?

The answers to these questions and more will be presented in a publicly-available report which maps out the current state of knowledge and areas of future research. The fishing industry themselves can use this information, but also other aspects of society such as municipalities, government offices, other maritime businesses, and other researchers.

Looking forward to hearing what the small-scale fisheries captains and crew are thinking about potentials in battery boats, biofuel and more!