The use of anchored, nearshore FADs is
widely recognised as being one of the few practical ways of increasing the tuna
catches of small-scale fishers. In the Pacific Islands region, greater local
catches of tuna are needed to help supply the fish required by growing urban
and rural populations.
Already more than 300 anchored
nearshore and offshore FADs are in use among various Pacific Island countries.
Many more will be needed in the future. However, considerable planning,
monitoring and research must be done to enable the full benefits of nearshore
FADs to be harnessed.
In a recent paper published in the
journal Marine Policy 56 (2015), a
research team led by Conservation International and the Australian National
Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at the University of
Wollongong has identified the various investments required to establish
nearshore FADs as part of the regional infrastructure for food security. These
investments need to be considered by Pacific Island governments and their
“There are healthy stocks of skipjack
and yellowfin tuna in the region. Nearshore FADs are a cost-effective way of
increasing access to these fish for Pacific Island communities,” observes
Johann Bell, a Visiting Professor at ANCORS and lead author of Optimising the use of nearshore fish
aggregating devices for food security in the Pacific Islands.
“FADs increase the chances of
small-scale fishers catching tuna and improve the supply of fish for growing
populations. Pacific Island governments can improve the supply of nutritious
food by allocating more of their tuna resources for local consumption and
investing in nearshore FADs.”
Fish forms a much greater part of the
diet of people living in the Pacific Islands region than it does for those
inhabiting most other areas of the world. Fish typically accounts for 50% to
90% of the animal protein intake for coastal Pacific communities and in ten Pacific Island countries
fish consumption exceeds 70kg per person a year.
Due to the scarcity of arable land and
the shortages of alternative sources of animal protein, Pacific Island
governments have been encouraged by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to
provide access to at least 35kg of fish per capita annually, which is twice the
global average, or to help maintain higher traditional levels of fish
In addition to industrial tuna fishing
by modern foreign fleets that harvest about 1.5 million metric tons a year
mostly for the global export market, Pacific Islands also have a
traditional coastal fisheries sector that is estimated to produce about 150,000
metric tons a year across all countries and territories combined.
Most fish consumed in the Pacific
Islands are caught by small-scale subsistence fishers around coral reefs.
However, much of the additional fish needed by growing populations will need to
come from tuna and other large pelagic fish captured around nearshore FADs, the
research team say.
According to fishing industry figures
some 313 FADs devices were in use by small scale fishers among 22 Pacific
Island countries (not including Papua New Guinea) at the end of 2014, consisting
of 212 nearshore FADs and some 101 offshore devices.
Although most of the FADs are used by
small scale fishers, a small number of FADs are shared by industrial fishing
fleets or with tourism-related spear fishing enterprises.
Fiji has deployed the most FADs with 54
in use, followed by French Polynesia with some 53 sub-surface FADs anchored at
depths ranging from 1,200 to 2,600 metres at locations ranging from 1 to 10
nautical miles from shore.
Vanuatu has 29 surface and subsurface
FADs in use, the Solomon Islands has 22, while the Federated States of
Micronesia has deployed 16 mostly sub-surface FADs.
Elsewhere among the Pacific Islands,
some 15 FADs are in use in the Cook Islands while Guam and Samoa have 14 each,
and Kiribati 13.
According to the research team, Pacific
Islands will need to deploy FADs at more than 200 additional sites to help
ensure adequate fish supplies for both rural and urban populations.
The team also highlighted the planning,
monitoring and research needed to identify locations that will yield good
catches, and the communities that are best placed to integrate use of FADs with
other livelihood activities.
This will depend on close consultation
with communities to identify needs and obtain assurances that they will assist
fisheries agencies to install and maintain FADs.
Nearshore FADs will be particularly
important for coastal communities with limited access to coral reefs, little
scope for pond aquaculture, and few options to produce other sources of
Catches around nearshore FADs will need
to be monitored to improve their design and placement, and to assess whether
the existing exclusion zones for industrial fleets around Pacific Islands are
large enough to provide adequate access to tuna for small-scale fishers.
Nearshore FADs also have potential to
assist with the management of coral reefs by providing small-scale fishers with
alternative fishing opportunities. As a result, transferring some the current
fishing effort from capturing reef fish to tuna is expected to ease pressure on
coral reef ecosystems and help them adapt to the effects of climate change.
Pacific Island countries planning to
install more FADs in future include some where fish are in short supply in
major urban centres only and others facing a countrywide fish supply shortage
in future, which plan to deploy new FADs to increase the total national marine
In countries where limited fish
supplies in urban centres are a problem due to transport and logistics
limitations preventing fish from being delivered from traditional fishing areas
to high demand urban centres, FADs will be deployed at suitable coastal sites
close to urban areas to solve the fish supply shortage affecting nearby town
Among countries planning to invest in
more FADs to increase coastal fisheries production, Papua New Guinea is
expected to install 104 of the planned new nearshore FADS at around 24 sites to
tackle an expected shortage in fish supply, while Fiji is expected to install
40 new FADS at eight sites.
In addition 12 other Pacific Island countries and
territories will install from five to eight new FADS each as part of efforts to
increase fish supplies in future.