Abstract Global fisheries have for long been scrutinized in terms of ecosystem effects but only more recently for their greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are dominated by fuel use on fishing vessels and the levels are often neglected side effects of resource overexploitation. Using a simple production model, Pella-Tomlinson, we illustrate how fuel efficiency (fuel use per unit of catch) varies with the level of exploitation and biomass depletion. For this model, fuel use per unit catch rises hyperbolically with fishing effort—it is relatively flat at low levels of effort but rises steeply as effort increases and biomass and catch decline. In light of these findings, the general fuel efficiency relationship with common fishery reference points on stock status is discussed, as well as other means of reducing fuel use and thus greenhouse gas emissions. We conclude that much may be gained by considering fuel efficiency in setting reference points for target stock biomass in fisheries and encourage further investigations.

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