• Management plans for fish-aggregating devices

The FFA helps small island developing states (SIDS) to develop plans for managing fish-aggregating devices (FADs), which affect how fish behave and how many fish are caught.

FADs are used to attract fish that naturally gather in dense schools so that less time is spent searching for them. This is particularly useful for highly migratory fish such as tuna. But FADs can:

  1. reduce populations of bigeye and yellowfin tuna when purse-seine fishers catch juvenile fish that group around FADs
  2. interfere with longline fishing, because they increase the risk fishing gear becoming entangled in the mooring ropes of FADs.

What are FADs?

Fish-aggregating devices are structures that float on or near the surface of the water where fish may congregate.

Most are made by humans. They may be free-floating or anchored to the seabed. Examples are buoys, floats, netting, webbing, plastics, bamboo, logs, and whale sharks.

In 2012, the Pew Environment Group estimated that the number of drifting FADs put into the oceans each year ranges from 47,000 to 105,000.

FAD management plans consider:

  1. limiting the number of FADs used by purse-seining fishing vessels
  2. modifying the design, operation, location and maintenance of FADs to minimise disruption to other fisheries.

From 1 January 2020, all FADs (existing and new) must be designed and constructed so that they cannot entangle sharks, turtles, and other animals that are not the target of fishing operations. The WCPFC also recommends that they be made of biodegradable materials.

  • Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC)

An evaluation of the sustainability of global tuna stocks relative to the Marine Stewardship Council criteria (January 2019) provides a basis for comparing stock scores. It is a useful source document for future tuna certifications or in the establishment of tuna fishery improvement projects (FIPs) and offers a “snapshot” of the current status of the stocks.

By implementing best practices for monitoring fish stocks, SIDS have greater control over their fisheries. Photo credit: Francisco Blaha
  • Tuna fisheries management plans

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