[Coral-List] FADs danger for coral reefs

mtupper mtupper at coastal-resources.org
Sat Sep 19 07:43:15 EDT 2015

Hi Steve and List,

The type of FADs you describe have been around for 20+ years and are used
globally. They were invented in the late 1980's by John D. Hall. Their original
name is "Instrumented Drift Fish Aggregating Device" or ID-FAD. I like your name
better. Most of them are designed to drift around the oceans, finding fish and
reporting back to fishing vessels. There are also stationary (moored) versions.
They are very common in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries, as Sarah mentioned. They
are also common in the across the Pacific, and the folks at SPC-FAME in New
Caledonia or WCPFMC in Pohnpei could probably tell you all you need to know..
They are used in the Caribbean too but I'm not sure how much.

The following description is from the US Patent Office, which issued the patent
in 1991.

"Broadly speaking, this invention is a device for attraction of pelagic game
fish having means to locate the device and, in alternative embodiments, means to
indicate to the fishermen data on the quantity of fish which the device has


The instrumentation mounted to the buoy include various combinations of a strobe
light for visual location, a radio which may use a satellite system for long
distance transmission of location and seawater temperature data, and an acoustic
link which, together with the radio, sends fathometer data on the quantity of
fish attracted by the device. This last information enables the fishermen to
determine whether to harvest the fish associated with a particular buoy or
whether it is not worth the final specific location determination and movement
through the water in that direction."


In the early 2000s, the EU launched an interesting research project that used
these ID-FADs to document fish attraction to, and behaviour around, FADs. The
project was called FADIO (Fish Aggregation Devices as Instrumented Observatories
of pelagic ecosystems). You can download the project report from the Western and
Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Pohnpei at
http://www.wcpfc.int/node/1732. IFREMER has done similar studies in the
Caribbean. It's a bit ironic that this method of fishing causes concentrated
fishing mortality but has also provided a wealth of data on pelagic fisheries
and ecosystems. I seem to recall (but I'm not certain) one or two governments in
the Pacific actually requiring instrumentation on FADs so that fishery-dependent
data could be collected.


Mark Tupper, Director
Coastal Resources Association
Surigao, Philippines

> On September 18, 2015 at 10:24 AM Steve Palumbi <spalumbi at stanford.edu> wrote:
> Hi Sarah, thanks for this alert. Last year we filmed a 2 minute video on type
> of FAD that phones the nearest fishing boat and gets the boat to come and
> scoop up the fish when the FAD detects there are enough around. We call these
> Robot Fish Killers and they will help eliminate both fish and small scale
> fishermen from the oceans. It is in The Extreme Life of the Sea, but I just
> popped it onto YouTube in case others wanted to see it.
> https://youtu.be/9eV2UOZ180s <https://youtu.be/9eV2UOZ180s>
> I’m curious about how often others see these kinds of machines. And how long
> they have been floating gout there.
> Steve
> **********************************
> Stephen R. Palumbi
> Harold A Miller Director, Hopkins Marine Station
> Jane and Marshall Steel Professor of Biology
> Stanford University
> > On Sep 18, 2015, at 2:26 AM, Sarah Frias-Torres <sfrias_torres at hotmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > Here's an interesting article showing the danger to coral reefs caused by
> > the massive use of FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) in the tuna fishing
> > industry. The author calls them Floating Atoll Destroyers, and they are a
> > major issue in the outer islands of Seychelles, Indian Ocean.
> > We had one of those FADs drifting into Cousin Island, in the inner
> > Seychelles (granitic islands). We used the tuna net to build net nurseries
> > to grow coral. So we turned derelict fishing gear into a source of new life.
> > Unfortunately, not all FADs have such benign ends.
> > More details
> > herehttp://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/fishing-fads-floating-atoll-destroyers/blog/54112/?fb_action_ids=685883004846411&fb_action_types=og.likes
> >
> > Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Twitter: @GrouperDocBlog:
> > http://grouperluna.wordpress.comhttp://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres
> >
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