What is a FAD?

What is a fish aggregating device (FAD)?

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A fish aggregating device (FAD) refers to artificial structures that are deployed in the ocean to attract schools of fish of various species. While FAD fishing often is an efficient method for catching large schools of tuna, industrial-scale FAD fisheries can have significant adverse impacts on tuna, as well as other species such as sharks and types of bony fish.

According to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF),  this unintended “bycatch” can make up 1.62% of a purse seine vessel’s catch. A catch that is truly FAD-free, will have an average bycatch rate that is less than 1%.

In general, most effective FAD-free programs seek to:

  • avoid overfishing target tunas;
  • minimize bycatch of non-tuna and other nontarget species; and
  • avoid significant or adverse changes to open ocean ecosystems.

Image: Pew Charitable Trusts