Fewer fish, tighter rules and higher fuel costs are some of the factors creating rough economic seas for Seattle's fishing fleet.

Fishing companies are now teaming up with boat builders to find ways to make fishing more economical, and it turns out there is a bonus by-catch. More efficient engines and design not only make operating a large fishing vessel cheaper, they improve efficiency and environmental impacts.

Puget Sound companies have teamed up to create what's billed as the greenest long line fishing boat ever.

The Northern Leader is under construction at Tacoma's J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. It's the newest vessel in the Alaskan Leader Fisheries fleet and it fits the group's strategy of sustainable and ecologically responsible fishing.

The 184-foot boat is the largest long line fishing boat ever built and it uses state of the art electric propulsion instead of the common propeller and rudder technology. Boat builders say the so called Z-drive technology uses diesel engines to produce electricity to feed electric engines that use less power, consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions.

Alaskan Leader officials say they prefer long line fishing because it is less damaging to fish stocks and the ocean floor. They say accidentally hooked species can be safely released and the lines do not scrape and damage the bottom. They admit it cost more than the older technology but they expect to recoup the costs within a few years by lowering operating costs.

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