DOE funds will boost testing of energy transition for commercial fisheries

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) is taking another step forward toward decarbonizing the seafood industry, with plans to pilot test hybrid and full electric propulsion in small boat fishing and mariculture operations. 

This latest effort of ALFA will be funded by a $700,000 award from the Department of Energy (DOE), announced by ALFA on Tuesday.  

“We will build on our work with the National Renewable Energy Labs to transition our fishing fleet toward clean energy, mitigate climate change, and ensure the long-term viability of Alaska’s small boat fisheries,” said Linda Behnken, a veteran harvester and the executive director of ALFA. 

The project, known as ALFA BETA (ALFA Boat Energy Transition Accelerator) seeks to align with ALFA’s mission to address climate change and decarbonize the seafood industry. 

ALFA sees the project as a catalyst for developing and implementing hybrid and full electric propulsion systems, addressing the unique challenges faced by small boat fishing and mariculture operations, with a goal of reducing the fleet’s carbon footprint, safeguarding marine ecosystems, and promoting a sustainable future for the state’s seafood industry. 

ALFA has teamed up with the Energy Department’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) to understand how to reduce fuel consumption and find ways to convert its fishing vessels to hybrid power. Ultimately ALFA hopes to reduce fuel costs and consumption by converting its fleet from diesel to carbon-free power. The program is one of nine ETIPP projects announced by DOE for 2023. 


Along with reducing operational costs and increasing fleet performance, ALFA sees the project as an opportunity to collaborate with local businesses and academic institutions to create new jobs and promote technological innovation within Alaska’s maritime sector. 

“The ALFA BETA project embodies ALFA’s commitment to decarbonizing the seafood industry and building resilience into Alaska’s small boat fishing fleet and fishing communities,” said Chandler Kemp, Technical Director for the ALFA BETA project. “By leveraging this financial support from the Department of Energy, ALFA will bring together fishermen, mariculturists, and experts in energy transition to develop cutting-edge solutions that accelerate the maritime sector’s path towards a greener future.” 

ALFA, founded in 1978, is a nonprofit organization of community-based commercial fishermen dedicated to sustainable fisheries and vibrant fishing communities.