Fish Aggregating Devices: Ecological Problems with a Common Fishing Technique

by Tom Tascone, RJD Intern

If you’ve seen the television show “Wicked Tuna” on National Geographic, then you are certainly familiar with some of the techniques associated with long line fishing of these species.  While this is the method of choice for recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen seeking various species of tropical tuna have abandoned the traditional “rod-and-reel” technique for a far more effective tool.  Known as the Fish Aggregating Device (FAD), this tool relies on the natural behavior of tuna to congregate under floating objects on the surface of the ocean.  Most FADs are made from bamboo rafts in order to mimic natural logs and other marine debris that often drift out at sea, and large numbers have been deployed. Besides dramatically increasing the number of tuna caught in fisheries operations, how have the use of FADs modified the “floating object environment” in the ocean, and what effects can they have on marine ecosystems? A recent article published by Dr. Laurent Dagorn has attempted to answer these important questions.

Read more