Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Distribution and Composition of Fish Aggregating Devices as Marine Debris

Event Name/Location

72nd Annual Conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, November 4-8, 2019

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Fish aggregating device, Distribution, Caribbean


Marine debris is increasingly seen as an environmental threat. However, little is known about the contribution of drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (dFADs), a gear accessory often used by commercial purse-seine fishers to increase efficiency and catches of target species, particularly tunas. dFADs are simply a surface or sub-surface platform with construction ranging from commercially manufactured plastic discs to home-made rafts. Many also have subsurface netting to increase prey attraction, as well as satellite-linked electronic buoys that allow remote monitoring of fish aggregations underneath. Particularly in pelagic waters, dFADs contribute to the growing problem of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) identified by the FAO. To date, little has been done to quantify the dFADs abandoned and beached in the Greater Caribbean. Using primarily social media, reports and photographs of stranded dFADs in the western Atlantic (n=153) were compiled from 1999 to present, including details on construction and designs, with locations throughout the Greater Caribbean in the western Atlantic and eastward to Scotland and the Azores. Two general trends were observed: 1) FAD platforms initially consisted of hand-made bamboo rafts, but the manufactured plastic discs that were developed in 2016 were first reported in October 2017, 2) an increasing frequency of home-made dFAD platforms composed of multiple jugs wrapped in netting within PVC or metal frames since January 2018. As reports of adverse anthropogenic impacts on the oceans increase, a need for sustainable, less damaging fishing gear and better fisheries management practices has become apparent, especially for dFADs. Better dFAD monitoring and reporting is recommended at the international RFMO/RFAB level.





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