Developing a science-based framework for the management of drifting Fish Aggregating Devices
Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) are man-made floating objects deployed by fishers to aggregate tuna and facilitate their catch. Currently, more than half of the global tropical tuna purse-seine catches occur at FADs. The fast development of the purse-seine fisheries operating on drifting FADs (DFADs) has raised concerns regarding their impacts on tuna populations, on non-target species like sharks, as well as on the pelagic and coastal habitats. Consequently, the management of DFAD fisheries is a priority for all tuna regional fisheries management organizations. Due to the little availability of science-based advice to support management decisions, resolutions on DFADs have been mainly based on precautionary principles. In this study we propose a science-based framework for the management of DFADs, relying on indicators and operating models. A set of models and indicators that help evaluate the ecological impacts of DFADs is presented, considering the case study of DFAD fisheries management in the Indian Ocean. The objective of this framework is to assess and predict the effects of DFADs on coastal and pelagic ecosystems, in order to support and/or evaluate past, present and future management actions.