New project underway to make fishing safer


21-January-2012

A single buoy FAD

This is being done through the installation of fish aggregating devices (FADs), which are basically floating objects specifically designed and located to attract and aggregate pelagic fishes, thus allowing fishers to find them more easily.

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) started deploying FADs late last year and a total of six such devices were deployed on the Mahé Plateau between November 29 and December 3. 

All FADs have been anchored between 1 and 3 kilometres from the shore in waters of about 50m and are expected to aggregate medium sized pelagic fishes such as tuna (skipjack and yellowfin) dolphin-fish (dorad), rainbow-runner (galate), wahoos (kingfish) and other smaller pelagic fishes such as scads and mackerels.

One of those FADs costs approximately €4,000, excluding additional cost for deployment and maintenance.

Before starting the project, the SFA hosted a meeting with fishermen and other stakeholders in early November, to determine the most appropriate locations to install the FADs.

A communiqué from the SFA notes that FADs do not increase the biomass of fish (i.e. they do not increase the size of a fish population), but rather aggregate them in one place, making them easier to catch.
 
“With piracy being a threat offshore, it is expected that those FADs will aggregate pelagic fishes closer inshore, making it safer for fishermen to access them,” says the communiqué.

 The SFA will this year carry out colonisation studies and tagging experiment on those FADs to better understand the movement and residence time of fishes that are associated to those devices.
  
All of the FADs deployed by the SFA are anchored types and are moored by a large anchor (1 metre concrete blocks).
 The FADs are of two types – the rosary type which consists of a series of 30 to 50 small orange buoys at the surface and discerned by a flag and a radar reflector, and the single buoy type which consists of a single large buoy (approximately 50 litres) distinguished by a solar powered flashing light. 
 
The installation of FADs in Seychelles falls under component 4 (Assessment and Sustainable Utilisation of Pelagic Fishes) of a Global Environment Facility (GEF), World Bank supported project and the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Project (SWIOFP).

FADs being moored

Within the region, FADs fishery is very well established in Comoros and Mauritius, and with the assistance of SWIOFP, other countries have been offered the opportunity to develop such fishery.
 
Noting that Seychelles has completed a crucial stage in this development, the communiqué  says that FADs fishery is not new to Seychelles given that the SFA has conducted various trials in the past. However commercial FADs fishery has never been initiated until now.
 
Although commercial FADs fishery may be relatively new to the Seychelles fishers, local fishing boats are already equipped with the necessary gear and facilities (motorised vessels, suitable gears) for successful adaptation.
Drop-lining, vertical long-lining and trolling are common fishing techniques used around FADs. 

Four other artisanal type FADs (made of bamboo and coconut leaves) were also deployed as part of a bait fishery development project being carried out by the SFA with support from the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan (OFCF).
 
Those artisanal FADs are expected to aggregates small pelagic fishes (scads, decapterus, mackerels), that will be targeted by a small purse seiner.

According to the SFA communiqué the success of FADs fishery in Seychelles will depend on a strong collaboration between the SFA, fishers and other users.

Past trials have revealed high level of vandalism on FADs, particularly theft on buoys and ropes, which led to the sinking and loss of those FADs. The SFA is calling on all fishers and other users to refrain from such practices.

 The SFA would also like to call on fishers to report their fishing activities around FADs to SFA officials present at various landing sites on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
 
“Information such as FADs visited, duration of fishing operations at FADs and catches (species and amount) will help the SFA in assessing the success of the project,” says the communiqué.
 
Fishers are also encouraged to inform the SFA of any malfunctions or damage that they may notice with those FADs.
The SFA believes that FADs fishery has great potential in Seychelles and it is expected that a second phase of the project will be implemented in the near future.
 

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