FAD Watch: a collaborative initiative to minimize the impact of FADs in coastal ecosystems
The FAD-Watch project is a first multi-sectorial initiative developed to prevent and mitigate FAD beaching across islands in Seychelles, in which the coastal recovery is applied as a mitigation measure. It is the result of a collaborative work among the Spanish Tuna Purse Seiner fishing representatives (OPAGAC), Island Conservation Society (ICS), Islands Development Company (IDC) and Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). The FAD detection system was setup by OPAGAC for 6 buffer areas (Alphonse, Farquhar, Desroches, Poivre, Aride and Silhouette islands), which make possible alerting ICS when FADs crossed buffer areas within 5 and 3 nautical miles of any of these islands. For each intercepted FAD, ICS collected information about the location, habitat type, purse seiner vessel, FAD design, entangled fauna, and fate (removed or not; & disposal method). In order to evaluate the beaching rate and entangling potential of FADs of the target fleet, information was complemented both by buoy tracked data and by data collected on the frame of the voluntary agreement for the application of good practices. FADs tracked in EEZ of Seychelles the 0.8% in 2016 and 0.5% in 2017 impacted the coast of the archipelago. During this period, a total of 19 FADs were intercepted by ICS in the buffer areas. FADs crossing EEZ of Seychelles and the beaching events have been reduced on 20% and 41% respectively, during 2016 to 2017 period. Results show how the FAD-Watch initiative in combination with other mitigation options could add great value to the package of mitigation measures on the reduction of FADs impacts on vulnerable coastal and pelagic habitats.