Analyses of the regional database of stranded (dFAD) in the EPO

Escalle L, Mourot J, Thellier T, et al (2023) Analyses of the regional database of stranded (dFAD) in the EPO. In: IATTC - 7th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on FADs. IATTC FAD-07 INF-A, La Jolla California USA

Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (dFADs) are reaching coastal areas where they can become stranded, adding to pollution and/or causing environmental damage. To quantify these events and their impacts, several Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC), and often with support from international Non -Governmental Organisations (NGOs), have implemented programmes to collect in-situ data. These data collection programs on stranded and lost dFADs are now fully implemented in ten PICTs: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Hawaiʻi, Republic of the Marshall Islands , French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palmyra, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna, with data collection spanning 2006–2023. A total of 2,199 stranding events could be identified to date; 40.5% of these consisted of a buoy alone, 29.5% of a FAD alone and 25.6% of a FAD with a buoy attached (4.4% were unknowns). FADs and buoys were most commonly found on a beach (40.3%), while others had been previously collected by local communities (28.8%), and some were found drifting in the ocean (8.1%), or caught on coral reefs (5.9%). In some case environmental damage could be recorded for dFAD strandings, this was most common for dFADs with submerged appendages and corresponded to coral damage (3% of all FADs but 6.8% of all appendages found) or entangled animals (0.6% of all FADs but 0.9% of appendages found). The origins of the stranded dFADs and buoys were investigated by using markings on the buoys and satellite buoy serial numbers. Markings were compared with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (the IATTC) and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) vessel registry; while buoy serial numbers were matched with records in the IATTC and WCPFC observer data and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) FAD tracking data. Stranded dFADs were in similar proportions from vessels fishing in the IATTC (47.0%), and the WCPFC area (43.2%), with 9.8% from vessels fishing in both Convention Areas. Large variability in terms of country of origin for stranding events was observe d. For example, most stranding events in French Polynesia were from vessels fishing in the IATTC-CA. This programme provides an incomplete picture of the level of dFAD strandings on Pacific Islands and we suggest that additional countries and territories should consider implementing similar data collection programs and participating in this regional initiative. Greater coverage of the dFAD stranding data is important to better understand the extent and potential implications of this issue and to help inform dFAD management options in the Pacific Ocean.