Caribbean FADs

Pelagic fish aggregation devices (FADs) are man-made structures that float on or just below the surface of the ocean, typically kept in place by anchors. FADs attract pelagic fish that may associate with the structure for days or weeks. By concentrating fish in a known location, FADs increase the efficiency of fishing and are widely employed in artisanal and industrial scale tropical, pelagic fisheries. Usually, FADs are deployed by individual fishers or close-knit groups who then manage exploitation of the aggregated fish to optimize economic returns and other benefits. Such FADs effectively restrict access to the aggregated fisheries resources, which is economically beneficial to the fishers deploying the FAD but often leads to conflict with others. More recently, governments and other organizations have deployed public FADs that are not associated with exclusive use rights in an attempt to make the technology more widely available, while reducing access conflicts. Public FADs may, however, be exploited less efficiently and also give rise to new conflicts that arise from crowding of fishers around the public FADs. In addition, there are concerns that the widespread use of FADs may lead to a condition in which pelagic fish stocks may be overexploited.

In the project we aim to analyze, through participatory research, the technical and socio-economic implications of alternative use rights and governance systems for FADs used in Caribbean artisanal fisheries. We will also work with stakeholders to develop best management practices for FAD use.

The research is currently focused on the Commonwealth of Dominica where FADs are widely used. It is carried out in collaboration with Florida SeaGrant, the Fisheries Division of Dominica, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism.

For more information:

Sidman, C., Lorenzen, K., Sebastien, R. Magloire, A., Cruickshank-Howard, J., Hazell, J. & Masters, J. (2014) Toward a sustainable Caribbean FAD fishery: an analysis of use, profitability and shared governance. Technical paper 206, Florida Sea Grant. LINK