Fishing on FADs
The use of FADs
Sustainability, 2010b), or Fish Aggregating Devices, in tuna
fisheries is a topic that inspires debate among conservationists, scientists
and members of the tuna fishing industry.
The use of FADs significantly increases the efficiency of commercial
fishing, especially when targeting free-swimming fish such as tuna, using purse
seine fishing vessels. Some argue that this allows fishermen to catch too much fish.
Does Fishing on FADs Lead to Overfishing of Tuna?
Conservationists argue that the
use of FADs contribute to overfishing due to the ability of the FAD to
consistently attract large amounts of tuna, which can then be harvested. There
is also criticism that purse seine fishing on FADs offers no way of mitigating
the catch of juvenile fish. The catching of juvenile tuna is often attributed
as one of the leading causes of overfishing. Overfishing occurs when fish are
harvested from a stock faster than they can be replaced by reproduction
Continued overfishing results in an overfished stock. If conservative measures
are not taken to allow an overfished stock adequate time to recover, there can then
be severe consequences to the ecosystem.
However, scientific studies have
concluded that catching juvenile tuna around FADs does not directly result in
overfishing. Catching either juvenile or adult tunas reduces the overall
population of tuna. But overfishing can occur when too many tunas are caught,
regardless of whether they are juvenile or adult. The study also found no
obvious pattern between the relative magnitude of the catch by sets on FADs and
whether a particular stock is either overfished or being subjected to
(Laurent Dagorn, 2012).
The tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs)
rely extensively on data sets on FAD usage, which are being made possible with the
International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) support by encouraging
vessels to supply their data directly to the appropriate RFMO body. Research
studies on how many FADs are deployed, their locations, usage patterns,
recoveries and losses, are necessary to ensure they are always used, monitored
and managed in a manner that reduces fuel costs and carbon footprints, without
harming the ecosystem or causing overfishing.
The eradication of overfishing falls to individual fishing
vessels and fisheries adopting responsible fishing practices. Understanding the
status of fishing stocks and limiting catch sizes are essential to the
sustainable use of tuna stocks.
Reducing Bycatch for Tuna Fishing with FADs
The use of FADs often receives
criticism for the levels of bycatch
(Tuna Sustainability, 2010a) that are associated
with this fishing method.
Studies have shown that levels
of non-tuna bycatch (non-targeted marine life that is caught incidentally) from
FAD fishing are comparable or lower than other industrial fisheries
As a founding member, Clover Leaf is working extensively with the International
Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) to assess fishing practices in order
to lower bycatch levels even further. The ISSF is a global organization
composed of leading scientists, members of the tuna industry and World Wildlife
Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization, all of who are focused
on promoting science-based initiatives for the long term health of tuna stocks,
reducing bycatch and promoting ecosystem health.
Since 2011, ISSF’s Bycatch
Project has conducted globally coordinated cruises with fishers and scientists
to gain input to identify improvements within the tuna purse seine fishery
focused on reducing environmental impact of fishing for tuna with FADs. The
researchers’ findings are used in skipper workshops, globally, resulting in
identifying best practices, new techniques and enhanced technologies to
minimize bycatch on FADs and improving tuna fisheries
Clover Leaf sources fish caught on FADs and is working
through its commitment to the ISSF to improve the sustainable use of FADs in
tuna fishing moving forward.
Kennedy, J. (2014). Overfishing. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from About.com:
Laurent Dagorn, K. H. (2012, October 3). Fishing with FADs – Good or Bad? Retrieved October 10, 2014, from ISSF:
Patterson, E. G. (2014, May 1). RESEARCHERS WORK TOWARD BYCATCH MITIGATION AMONGST AN ACTIVE CREW OF FISHERMEN… AND AMONGST THE SHARKS. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from
Tuna Sustainability. (2010a, December 23). Glossary: Bycatch. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from YouTube:
Tuna Sustainability. (2010b, December 23). Glossary: FAD. Retrieved October 1, 2014, from YouTube: