Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Lobster fishing boats coming soon Are they electric?

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Lobster fishing is one of the most lucrative industries in Nova Scotia.

  • Julie Sicot (View profile)Julie Sicot

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As the lobster fishing season resumed Sunday in Area 33 in southwest Nova Scotia, thousands of boats headed out to sea. Within two years, one of those vessels could possibly be navigated using electricity thanks to projects aimed at decarbonizing the lobster boat fleet in the province.

Mid-October, the Ontario association Oceans North, specialist in marine conservation, announced that the design of the first electric fishing boat project, named Lektrike'l Walipotl, was completed.

Construction of the boat is expected to begin in Cape Breton in 2024 and the first navigation tests could take place in 2025. With this project, Oceans North, which is working in collaboration with the Membertou First Nation, hopes to develop Canada's first generation of zero-emission fishing boats.

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One ​​of the electric boat projects presented by Oceans North in their report on the electrification of the lobster fleet.

We installed sensors on the existing fleet, to understand how these vessels operate in order to build a boat that meets the requirements of fishermen, explains Brent Dancey, director of Marine Climate Action for Oceans North.

The propulsion system will be entirely electric.

A quote from Brett Dancey

With the batteries, the boats will be able to fish between 8 and 12 hours, but there will be a small diesel generator inside in case of emergency, adds the head of the association.

According to Oceans North, this electric boat could be suitable for crews sailing less than 20 kilometers from the coast, or nearly 70% of boats in the province.

Canada wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and to achieve this goal, all sectors must evolve. Fishing is no exception, particularly lobster fishing, one of the most important and lucrative in the province.

The lobster boat fleet comprises more than 3,000 boats in Nova Scotia and according to a report by Oceans North, they produce approximately 82 million kilograms of CO2 each year.

Fishermen aren't to blame for climate change, but they can be part of the solution, adds Brent Dancey.

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Brett Dancey of Oceans North is confident in the project launched by his association with other partners.

If 70% of fishing vessels switch to electric, Oceans North estimates in a report that fleet emissions could be reduced by more than 60%.

Oceans North has established a twenty-year cost comparison of different boat models. Their calculations show that a boat with an electric propulsion system would cost more than $254,000 while the 20-year cost of a diesel-powered boat is estimated at almost $350,000.

This cost does not cover the costs of installing electric charging stations on the platforms.

According to the Brazil Rock lobster fishermen's association, fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia will not be able to benefit from this technological advance, because they often fish more than 20 kilometers from the coast.

In theory, this is a great idea.

A quote by Dan Fleck, Executive Director of the Brazil Rock Area 33-34 Fishermen's Association

It's just not practical in our environment, adds Dan Fleck. We want to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce the amount of fuel oil we use to reduce our costs, but an electric motor on a 50-foot lobster boat doesn't work yet.

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Dan Fleck of the lobster fishermen's association Brazil Rock 33/34 which represents commercial fishermen in the region.< /p>

We don't even have electricity so people can plug in a heater to warm their boat, adds Dan Fleck.

Brent Dancey acknowledges that many facilities will need to be modernized before electric boats can be deployed on a larger scale.

But we have to start, he says. The first step is to show people the technology, no one believes something can work until they see it with their own eyes.

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