Agreement on FAD restrictions in the Indian Ocean – a major step toward protecting marine resources


Adoption February 5, 2023. in Mombasa, Kenya, by fishing nations of tough proposals to restrict the use of “fish aggregating devices” (FADs) in the Indian Ocean is a significant step toward sustainable management of fish stocks in the region. FADs are among the most controversial tools for harvesting large quantities of fish, as they carry many negative effects on marine ecosystems.

What are fish concentration devices?

FADs, or fish aggregating devices, are floating structures with suspended nets that are used to attract fish. They are mainly used in fishing for tuna and other predatory fish. These devices attract individuals that congregate around them, making it easier to catch larger numbers in less time. FADs are popular in the fish industry around the world, but their use in the Indian Ocean is particularly common.

Effects of FADs

Unfortunately, FADs carry many negative consequences. One of the main problems with them is that they attract not only the target fish species, but also many other organisms, including endangered turtles, sharks and marine mammals. These incidental catches of animals are called incidental catches, and they pose a serious threat to marine biodiversity.

In addition, fish-concentrating devices can pose a serious threat to the environment if they are discarded or lost. Impacts can include overexploitation of fish, reduced populations, damage to the seafloor, pollution and obstacles to fish movement.

The use of FADs can also lead to overexploitation of resources, as they attract large numbers of fish that are often not fully mature for fishing. Which, as a result, can lead to population decline and disrupt the balance of marine ecosystems.

What restrictions have been adopted?

Restrictions on the use of FADs in the Indian Ocean are aimed at reducing fishing pressure on fish stocks. New regulations to be adopted by countries IOTC by January 1, 2024, include a gradual reduction in the number of drifting FADs for each vessel. To increase transparency and monitoring of the devices, a mandatory registry will be introduced to make them easier to track and control. For the first time, there will also be a 72-day period during the year when the use of FAD devices will be banned.

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