What Are FAD's
FADs are drifting or anchored buoys or rafts that attract and aggregate pelagic fish such as Tuna, Billfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo and Rainbow Runner. FAD's make it easier to find these fish and catch them. Fishers have long known that fish congregate around naturally occurring floating objects such as logs or a dead whale and that by mimicking this effect fish aggregation could be exploited. FADs do not increase the abundance of fish, but only redistribute them into a smaller area.
It is also important to note that drifting FADs and anchored FADs have quite different uses, impacts, and management concerns. Today there are thousands of FADs in use worldwide for industrial handline, purse seine, and pole and line fisheries. There are three basic designs for anchored FADs – the spar buoy and the Indian Ocean FAD as well as the far more common artisanal FADs made from local materials such as bamboo and coconut fronds.
Choosing a FAD Site
A FAD should be located at a distance from shore that is not too far for small boats to reach safely, but is far enough away from the coast or reef so as not to interfere with natural fish aggregations. A FAD should be near a centre of fishing activity, where the bottom is not too steep, and the water depth is between 100 and 1,500 m. Marine charts are an essential source of bathymetric information such as depth and bottom contours, and prevailing currents as well as shipping lanes. Fishers should be consulted to point out areas that have a history of productive fishing for pelagic species. Fisheries departments can also give advice on where productive fishing grounds are located, and on places to avoid such as reserves or whale sanctuaries and reefs or seamounts that are already aggregating fish.
FADs may disturb delicate ecosystems if they are deployed in the wrong places. FADs should not be deployed in sanctuaries or reserves and important ecosystems that are vital for species such as dugongs.
Click Here to Download A PDF Diagram of a common FAD designed used in the Pacific Islands.
Click Here for a Detailed PDF (643KB) of the South Pacific Commission Fish Aggregating Device FAD Manual
Click Here to download a PDF (167KB) of Steel Spar Buoy System & Components