Seychelles Fishing Authority signs up for project designed to intercept drifting FADs
The agreement was signed on Monday to formalise and concretise the collaboration of SFA, Sustainable Indian Ocean Tuna Initiative (SIOTI), and the Spanish Association of Tuna Freezers. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) is to see a boost in fish aggregating devices (FADs) management capacity within local waters through the signing of an agreement with leading tuna fishing companies and tuna processors in the Indian Ocean.
The agreement was signed on Monday to formalise and concretise the collaboration of SFA, Sustainable Indian Ocean Tuna Initiative (SIOTI), and the Spanish Association of Tuna Freezers (AGAC) on a project designed to intercept drifting FADs in Seychelles.
Called the FAD Watch initiative, the project is a multi-sectorial initiative developed to prevent and mitigate FAD beaching across islands in Seychelles. Under the initiative, interception of drifting FADs can be made before they run the risk of getting stranded in the island nation's shallow marine habitats.
SFA's interim chief executive, Philippe Michaud, who signed the agreement, said that "the whole idea of having this cooperation is to make sure that the impact on the environment will be as minimum as possible and is a win-win for both the industry and the environment."
"The tuna purse seining industry needs FADs to operate and the Seychelles government and SFA want to make sure that FADs are used in the most efficient way and that the negative impacts are reduced and mitigated. This is a start of a very important cooperation that will also help SFA to boost its capacity when it comes to the management of FADs," said Michaud.
FAD Watch was originally launched in 2016 by the AGAC, together with local island conservation partners and SFA. It was in 2021 that SIOTI joined the project. The continued collaboration with SFA will enable support for further deployment of the Seychelles Coast Guard vessel Saya De Malha.
A representative of SIOTI present at the signing, Jan Robinson, outlined that "the Saya de Mahla vessel is a large-scale vessel that is able to collect and recover large numbers of FADs in short time frames and in a safe way."
"It is very important for the industry to have partners like SFA to ensure not only that our industry is able to meet the requirement of the IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission), and Seychelles FAD management plans, but also to explore ways for the industry to go further than what is required under those regulations to ensure that the potential for FADs to be lost and cause impacts in shallow water ecosystems are minimised," said Robinson.
He also shared that an online platform developed over the past number of years by the industry to monitor near real-time the position of FADs, when they move closer to shallow waters, will be handed over to SFA.
Through the initiative, fishing vessel owners supply SFA with online software and satellite tracking data for drifting FADs that enter coastal zones around 18 Seychelles' islands.
The project also provides enhanced tools to better identify areas of potential stranding risk, allowing for an efficient interception and recovery of the drifting FADs to avoid pollution of the islands' beaches as well as danger to other sea life.
FADs are used primarily by tuna purse seiners and the devices have been shown to contribute to overfishing because they attract juvenile fish as well as endangered turtles, sharks and marine mammals that get caught up in purse seiner nets.