Malaita communities benefit from FADs to sustain fishing grounds

Categories News, NewsPosted on

HONIARA, 27 March 2020 – WITH the increasing threats of climate change on local fishing grounds of coastal communities around Malaita Province in Solomon Islands, communities are seeing the importance of the fish-aggregating devices (FADs) in providing them with alternative fishing grounds.

In Solomon Islands, small-scale commercial fisheries are dotted around the provinces, and focus on providing mainly sea resources such as sea shells, beche-de-mer, and shark fins for export.

These commodities are an important source of cash for local Solomon Islanders. However, in recent years, coastal communities in the Solomon Islands have seen drastic changes that have affected their daily fishing activities.

These changes gave birth to the local marine management area (LMMA) initiative, through which coastal communities around Malaita understood the importance of protecting their reefs from overfishing and other harvesting activities.

The project: Malaita provincial government and WorldFish

Since 2018, eight communities in Malaita Province have utilised FADs to make their fishing easier. They are Suava Bay,  Onepusu and Mandalua in North Malaita; Gwanatafu in West Fataleka; Fote, and Bio in West Kwara’ae; Ta’arutona in West Are’are; and Ambitona in East Kwaio. 

The Malaita Provincial Fisheries office and WorldFish Auki have teamed up for the great partnership, which resulted in eight FADs being deployed in the seas near these communities in March 2018. 

The FADs were deployed by a team consisting of people from WorldFish and Malaita Provincial Fisheries. The eight communities are believed to have put into practice LMMAs, to restrict use of reefs close to their villages from being fished or gleaned.  

Mathew Isihanua from the Malaita Provincial Fishery Office in yellow, WorldFish team, and people from Ta`arutona community went out for depth sounding before deploying FADs. Photo: Ronald Toito’ona.

The aim of deploying the FADs to these communities is to provide the communities with an alternative fishing area to prevent the villagers from engaging in fishing activities in the LMMA.  More communities in Malaita are now adapting the concept of LMMA to protect their marine resources from over-harvesting and the fear of marine resource extinction. 

Today, due to the value of marine resources like fish and seashells in Solomon Islands domestic markets, people put more pressure on the reefs than ever in human history. Harvesting of marine resources for daily food and income over the years has so affected many reefs in Malaita that they have lost much of their rich marine life. 

Some communities have begun to realise that relying heavily on the reefs needs to be stopped to allow reefs to revive, and their marine richness to return and continue to provide the current generation and future generations with food and income.  

However, the challenge that materialises for adopting an LMMA is that it prevents communities that depend on reefs from looking elsewhere for fish and seashells to satisfy daily needs. This is becoming irritation, especially to those who depend on harvesting marine resources.

Malaita Provincial Fisheries boss Martin Jasper, head and upper body photo of man standing in front of poster of reef fishes.
Malaita Provincial Fisheries boss Martin Jasper

According to Martin Jasper from the Malaita Provincial Fisheries office in Auki, the FADs are actually meant to relieve fishing pressure from the reefs, especially when the reefs are put under an LMMA to regain their rich marine life.  

Mr Jasper said in early 2019 that the FAD distribution was in its second phase, that is implementation. The project is being implemented under the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 

“This is the second phase of the project implemented under the Coral Triangle Initiative and funded by Asian Development Bank,” Mr Jasper said.

“WorldFish in collaboration with the Malaita Provincial Fisheries deployed FADs to the eight selected communities that applied for the FADs.

“More than 50 communities applied, and only eight were accepted due to limited funds available,” he added.

Mr Jasper explains that before the distribution and installation of the FADs, an awareness tour and constructions of FADs and anchors was conducted in March 2018. 

“This tour was for definite deployment of FADs and community-based resource management awareness that linked with FADs activities,” he said.   

Following the deployment of the FADs, communities in North Malaita have told the Auki Provincial Fisheries office that they are benefiting from the FADs as the equipment made fishing easier for them, which means they do not have to fish in the LMMA. 

In the meantime, Mr Jasper is calling on the eight communities to take care of the FADs so that they will continue to attract more fish to make fishing easier.  

Not only that, he also extended the call to sea users, fishers, and the travelling public to respect the FADs because they are deployed purposely to provide alternative fishing ground for the communities to relieve pressure on their reefs. 

Mr Jasper said there are few recorded incidents of FAD vandalism, where people cut the anchor and ropes attached to the FADs for no good reason. 

“FADs have played a major role in communities practicing LMMA because without FADs people will not respect the LMMA and will continue to harvest marine resources in the management areas,” he said.

Lilisiana community’s FAD engagement

Learning from the success of the eight communities, the Lilisiana community in the Langalanga division of Malaita decided to follow suit. Like other coastal communities, the people of Lilisiana derived much of their protein from fish while selling surplus supply at Auki, Malaita’s provincial capital, to meet other household needs and wants.

However, their heavy reliance on the resource depleted the supply of fish in the nearby reefs. This situation forced the fishers of Lilisiana to paddle further out to sea to fish. 

The fishers blamed that the change in weather conditions, saying they had muddled up the regular migratory fish pattern. The presence of seasonal fish species such as yellowfin tuna, rainbow fish and even kingfish appear to be unpredictable to most, even to the elites in the trade.

As a result, fishing becomes harder and fishers often return home with very small catche that are sometimes enough for family consumption only.  Whenever a fishing trip is unsuccessful, it badly affects family income.

In 2017, the fishermen of Lilisiana formed a group called the Auki Bay Fishermen Association (ABFA). ABFA was established to create an avenue for fishers of Lilisiana to support their families through the provision of food and income.

Members of ABFA witness the commissioning of the FAD. Photo: Ronald Toito’ona.

The group created a FAD in January 2019 and had it deployed at sea.

The FADs assist local fishers to gain access to tuna stocks, and minimise their travel costs (boat fuel and time). FADs also improve safety at sea by reducing the need to fish far away, and encouraging fishers to fish at least some of the time in a “known” place.

ABFA is the first fishing association in Malaita Province to create a FAD at the village level without assistance from the Ministry of Fisheries.

ABFA chairman Joe Talanimoli told Malaita Star Magazine during the official launching of the FAD in January this year that making a FAD at the village wasn’t easy.

“To make a FAD at the village level without funding support is not an easy task because everything costs money,” Talanimoli said.

However, through collaborative and collective efforts from more than 100 ABFA members, they managed to complete the FAD which cost them over $8,000 within two weeks.

“Most of the materials required and used for the FAD were sourced from villagers at affordable cost,” the chairman added.

Now that the FAD was finally deployed at sea, ABFA members could now look forward to improving their catches to support their families, he said with a smile.

Following the launch, ABFA appointed a body that is responsible for maintaining the FAD.

Since the introduction of the initiative two years ago, the communities had benefited greatly from the FAD initiative. Auki market, as well as Honiara Central market, are the usual destinations of FAD catches. 

However, to ensure that everyone gets maximum benefits from the initiative, all fishers and community members were told to look after the equipment so that it would continue to support them meet their family needs and wants. The communities were also cautioned about penalties under the Fisheries Act if someone was found tampering with or vandalising the equipment.

Manual on design, technology and use of anchored FADs updated

Categories NewsPosted on

new technical manual on the design of and use of anchored fish-aggregating devices has been released for the Pacific Islands.

The technical manual covers standard designs for different kinds of anchored FADs, and some regional modifications of these. It also discusses technical considerations for the design of upper floatation devices, main lines, and anchors, and considers deployment location and techniques from different kinds of fishing vessels, and maintaining FADs.

The manual improves on a 2005 edition by drawing on the experience and lessons learned by users of FADs across the Pacific. 

The manual is published by the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The new manual doesn’t replace the old ones, which FAME says still contains useful technical information. However, FAME said it became clear in 2016 that the older manual did need updating, when Pacific FAD users came together to share their knowledge and experiences in FAD design and innovation.

They said information that was still relevant in the 2005 edition had not been repeated in the new manual, but was referred to.

The manual is free to download in individual sections or as a complete manual. The 2005 manual can also be downloaded from the SPC website.

composite photo. Left image 3 men with leaves, floats, anchors, making anchored fish-aggregating devices. Right photo: two men on a small boat at sea feeding anchored FADs into the water. Photos: Forum Fisheries Agency.
Construction and deployment of FADs, Nauru. Photo: Forum Fisheries Agency.

Note: this post was amended on 18 March 2020 to replace images.

Three-month ban on use and servicing of FADs from 20°N to 20°S begins on 1 July

Categories News, Press releasesPosted on

Republished from the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

Federated States of Micronesia, Pohnpei

Deadline: 1 Jul 2019 to 1 Oct 2019

A three-month prohibition on deploying, servicing or setting on FADs shall be in place between 0001 hours UTC on 1 July and 2359 hours UTC on 30 September each year for all purse seine vessels, tender vessels, and any other vessels operating in support of purse seine vessels fishing in exclusive economic zones and the high seas in the area between 20N and 20S.*

*Members of the PNA may implement the FAD set management measures consistent with the Third Arrangement Implementing the Nauru Agreement of May 2008. Members of the PNA shall provide notification to the Commission of the domestic vessels to which the FAD closure will not apply. That notification shall be provided within 15 days of the arrangement being approved.

Pacific fishing nations strengthen rules to protect their tuna and economies

Categories @WCPFC15, FeaturesPosted on

The WCFPC has toughened its stance on tuna fishing. It has extended fishing limits, expanded the official observer program, and made tougher rules against bycatch, including the compulsory use of non-entangling FADs.

Tougher rules to protect tuna stocks as well as boost struggling Pacific Island economies were the focus of Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) decisions at its recent annual policy-setting meeting.

The most important measures agreed to at the WCPFC15 meeting in Honolulu in December 2018 are:

  • setting a target reference point (TRP) for South Pacific albacore tuna, to balance the preservation of fish populations and economic needs 
  • extending to 2021 current limits on the catch of bigeye, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna, despite some pressure to ease restrictions
  • strengthening protection of Pacific bluefin tuna by tightening the rules for catches 
  • increasing the length of time fish-aggregating devices (FADs) are prohibited from use, and extending the area of ocean over which the ban applies
  • constraining FAD design and construction to prevent animals becoming entangled and to reduce plastic rubbish in the ocean
  • expanding the acceptable measures to reduce seabird bycatch, while also expanding the area in which the measures must be used
  • expanding the number of observers, human and electronic, and implementing online compliance reporting.

All current rules, known as conservation and management measures (CMMs), are summarised on SustainPacFish. They are listed on policy and rule pages for fish stocks, compliance, catch and harvestobservers and bycatch. WCFPC also lists all CMMs in full.

All FADS to prevent entanglement from 2020

It will be compulsory from the beginning of 2020 for FADs to be designed and built to prevent sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other animals from accidentally being caught during fishing operations. They currently die in their tens of thousands each year. 

The rule applies to FADs to be deployed in or that will drift into the western and central Pacific Ocean. During discussion at WCPFC15, the European Union reported that it already used non-entangling FADs in other oceans, and that they had no impact on the amount of tuna caught. The WCPFC agreed that, to prevent animals becoming tangled up in FADs, fishing fleets should avoid using mesh if possible. However, if mesh is to be used:

  • the netting must be less than 7 cm when stretched, whether used on the raft or in the hanging “tail”
  • if the raft is covered, the mesh is to be wrapped securely so that animals cannot become enmeshed
  • any mesh used in a tail is to be tightly bundled and secured into “sausages” that are weighted so that the tail hangs straight down in the water column and remains taut.

It recommended a solid canvas sheet as a better option for the tail.

Biodegradable FADs recommended

The WCPFC flagged the introduction of biodegradable FADs, to reduce the amount of plastic rubbish in the ocean and that washes up on reefs and coastlines. The Scientific Committee (SC) and the Technical and Compliance Committee (TCC) are to present suitable designs by 2020. 

Parts of a FAD that has broken up have washed up on a beach in New Caledonia. Credit: A. Durbano, Association Hô-üt’, New Caledonia.
Parts of a FAD that has broken apart and washed up on a beach in New Caledonia. Credit: A. Durbano, Association Hô-üt’, New Caledonia.

FAD closure extended

The Commission also increased by two months a year the period in which FADs are banned from use in some areas. They were previously prohibited from 1 July to 30 September by purse seiners operating on the high seas and in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) between 20°N and 20°S. The ban is now extended for an extra two months on the high seas. 

The CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, Mr Ludwig Kumoru, said: “FAD closures are an important conservation action that reduces catch of juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna.”

Protection zone extended to reduce seabird bycatch

Longline fishing vessels must use several approved measures to reduce the number of seabirds accidentally caught while fishing. 

The measures were already in place for the Pacific Ocean south of 30°S. From 1 January 2020, that area will be extended, with vessels fishing between 25°S and 30°S to also use approved measures, although the EEZs of Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Tonga are exempt. The measures allowed are detailed in CMM 2018-03 and summarised in policies and rules on Sustainpacfish.

Seabird bycatch mitigation measures

North of 23oN:

  • large longline vessels of 24m or longer to use at least 2 mitigation measures, including at least one from Column A
  • small longline vessels of less than 24m to use at least one measure from Column A.

Between 25oS and 23oN:

  • longline vessels are encouraged to use at least one of these measures, and preferably more.
Column AColumn B
Side setting with a bird curtain
and weighted branch lines
Tori line
Night setting with minimum deck
lighting
Blue-dyed bait
Tori lineDeep-setting line shooter
Weighted branch linesManagement of offal discharge
Hook-shielding devices

The commission also amended the rules to conserve and manage turtles, but failed to agree on new measures for sharks.

Interim target set for catch of South Pacific albacore tuna 

Pacific small island developing states cautiously hailed the adoption of limits to the catch of south Pacific albacore tuna. The limit, called a target reference point (TRP), tells fishing nations how many fish can be taken, based on the combined weight of all breeding-age individuals (called “spawning biomass”) of that species. 

While recent assessments have reported that albacore was not overfished, some Pacific Island nations said that catch rates were down, leaving island livelihoods in a “perilous” state

The WCPFC agreed on a limit of 56 per cent of spawning biomass. Although FFA argued for a limit of 60 per cent to support local economies, member states agreed the decision was workable. 

In light of negotiations for the TRP, which have been going on for years, FFA director general Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said of the decision: “This is a milestone for the management of the south Pacific albacore fishery.”

Catch rules clarified for Pacific bluefin tuna, and limits maintained for tropical tuna

The WCPFC clarified the catch rules for bluefin tuna so that, when a country exceeds its effort and catch limits in one year, the amount extra it has taken is deducted from the catch it is allowed the following year.

The Northern Committee of the WCPFC had argued for a catch-documentation scheme (CDS) to be applied to Pacific bluefin tuna to help bring populations of this depleted species back to sustainable levels. This will be developed as part of the conservation and management measure (CMM) on bluefin tuna. The goal of the CDS is to create a paper trail (physical or electronic) in fisheries to make it much more difficult to sell illegal, unreported or unregulated fish, since they wouldn’t have required documentation. 

Despite some pressure to relax catch limits for the main commercial tropical tuna species—bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack—the WCPFC extended current limits for another two years. These three species are worth more than US$4.4 billion a year

Reducing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Several decisions are intended to improve surveillance and compliance. By making reporting more transparent and thorough, the WCPFC expects to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which, worldwide, makes up almost a quarter of the value of the seafood industry.

PNA members and the FFA want illegal fishing to be eliminated by 2023. FFA director general Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen said that the strategy to monitor and control fishing in the western and central Pacific was “to develop and deploy game-changing applications”.

Last year, the president of the Marshall Islands, Dr Hilda Heine, said: “A five-year target to eliminate IUU fishing by 2023 is bold, but the stakes are too high not to be audacious in the goals we set. If we are serious about combating IUU, we need a tougher mindset.” 

Strengthen the observer network and compliance

WCPFC members agreed on several measures to strengthen compliance.

More than 60 per cent of the tuna caught in the western and central Pacific comes from the eight nations that make up the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The CEO of the PNA, Mr Ludwig Kumoru, said: “Our requirement of 100 per cent fisheries observer coverage on purse seiners and other measures is a big deterrent to illegal fishing.” 

Another measure is to expand the requirements for unique identification numbers for ships, and authorisation to fish expanded to include all fishing vessels with inboard motors and 12 metres or longer.

All purse-seine fleets are to carry an official observer, who will collect data on catches, and composition of catch (species, size and age of fish, and bycatch), transhipment, and FAD closures. Small island developing states (SIDS) are now required to cooperate by sharing information collected by the observers.

The Commission also expanded the compliance monitoring scheme (CMS), with some reporting information to be made publicly available online, and searchable. Flagging of alleged violations has also been formalised, with deadlines given for countries to address violation notices.

Calls to make work safe for fishing crews and observers

The expanded role of observers came as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) demanded better conditions for observers on ships, following ongoing disappearances of observers at sea.

WCPFC members adopted resolutions to improve working conditions and safety for fishing crews.

At the meeting, the Commission agreed to: