GLOBAL - The Pew Charitable Trusts has announced a new project which will help local fishery managers track and manage the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD's) in the Central and Western Pacific skipjack tuna fishery through satellite technology, writes Lucy Towers, TheFishSite Editor.
The Western and Central Pacific Ocean skipjack tuna fishery has expanded massively over the last few years due to the increasing use of FAD's which attract schools of tuna beneath their floating structures.
Although FAD's have proved successful in attracting tuna, they also attract other species which is leading to high levels of bycatch.
In a media briefing, Adam Baske, Manager of Global tuna Conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, said that around 85 per cent of bigeye tuna are now unneccessarily caught as juveniles, partly due to the use FAD's.
With no regulations on the use or collection of FAD's, an estimated 30,000 - 50,000 are deployed in the Western and Central Pacific each year and many are left to litter and pollute the oceans. There is therefore concern over the effects that the unregulated use of FAD's are having on overfished tuna populations.
In order to try and monitor the use of FAD's and the reporting of tuna numbers beneath them, the Pew Charitable Trusts is working with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) who have a significant portion of the skipjack tuna catch, on better reporting.
In 2012, they began a pilot project which showed that the satellite buoys attached to FAD's could be tracked by the PNA in a similar way to vessel monitoring system's.
Partly funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the project is now expanding to include all the tens of thousands of FAD's in the waters of the PNA countries.
This huge expansion hopes to bring an end to overfishing by requiring all PNA fishermen to be the first in the world to start reporting FAD data to managers/scientists so that better management plans can be created.
“We have a responsibility to sustainably manage the fishing of tuna in our waters, and we must have transparency and cooperation from fishing vessels we permit to fish,” said Maurice Brownjohn, Commercial Director of the PNA.
“As fishery managers, we owe it to our people to know where each and every FAD in our region is, who put it there, what tuna is caught on it, and what ultimately happens to it. This project will help bring the data managers and scientists need to improve assessments and day-to-day management advice.”