Biodegradable drifting fish aggregating devices: Current status and future prospects

Zudaire I, Moreno G, Murua J, et al (2023) Biodegradable drifting fish aggregating devices: Current status and future prospects. Marine Policy 153:105659.

The structure, materials and designs of drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (dFADs) have generally remained rudimentary and relatively unchanged since they first came into use in the 1980 s. However, more recently, dFADs have been increasing in dimensions and the prevailing use of plastic components. Abandoned, lost or discarded dFADs can therefore contribute to the global marine litter problem. Transitioning to biodegradable and non-toxic materials that have a faster rate of decomposition, and are free of toxins and heavy metals, relative to synthetic materials, has been prescribed as an important part of the solution to reducing marine pollution from industrial tuna fisheries that rely on dFADs. This review of the current state of dFADs considers aspects related to the use of biodegradable materials in their construction, including; regulations related to dFAD materials, trials of biodegradable designs and materials and future alternatives. During the last decade, regulatory measures at tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (tRFMOs) have gradually moved towards the clear recommendation to use biodegradable materials in dFAD construction together with other measures limiting the number of active dFADs and the use of netting materials. However, to provide operational guidance, more clarity is needed, starting with a standardised definition of biodegradable dFADs among tRFMOs. Research involving dFAD natural and synthetic materials is required, along with improved data collection for monitoring the transition of dFAD materials against specified standards for biodegradable dFADs. In addition, alternative and complementary actions need to be explored to contribute to minimising adverse effects of dFADs on the environment. Acknowledging the current difficulties for the implementation of fully biodegradable dFADs in tuna fisheries, a stepwise process towards the implementation of commercially viable biodegradable dFADs should be considered.