Many fish species, including tunas, associate with floating objects in the ocean. There are two types of floating objects: natural and man-made. Man-made floating objects specifically constructed to attract fish, as well as natural objects that are found by fishermen and modified, are called FADs. They can be anchored or drifting. More than 40 percent of annual global tuna catch is caught using FADs.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

This most efficient and widely used fishing method can sometimes place stress on tuna stocks and their ecosystems. Additionally, there is concern surrounding FAD use about the number of small tuna and nontarget species captured or entangled; of highest concern are effects on sharks and small bigeye tuna, depending on the region at issue. FAD fishing can also impact sea turtles and other finfish such as wahoo, dolphinfish, rainbow runner and billfish.

WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT

The issue of bycatch and overfishing associated with FADs has been mostly rooted in the unknown – gaps in data, animal entanglement below the surface and the absence of clear regional management guidelines. Uncovering the reality behind these questions is a priority for our organization and our partners, and fishers and fisheries managers are getting much better at it. Overall, if we are to truly alleviate the pressure commercial fishing places on stocks and their ecosystems via fishing with FADs or any other gear type, our efforts should not focus solely on one single gear type or fishing method.

Through a multi-faceted approach ISSF actively works toward: improving FAD data collection and reporting; enhancing enforcement of existing management measures; working with skippers on best practices at sea; reducing capacity and fishing effort; and promoting science-led efforts to reduce bycatch.