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December 03, 2012

Video: New Threat to Tuna and Oceans: Industrial-Fishing FAD Use

Tens of Thousands of Drifting Fads Equipped with Satellite Transmitters and Directional Beacons Could Spell Trouble on the High Seas

A new video by underwater videographer Rick Rosenthal highlights what it suggests is a little-recognized threat to tuna populations and other pelagic species as well: the unregulated and growing use of fish-aggregating devices (FADs) on the high seas by industrial-fishing fleets.

“The Lure of Flotsam” notes, without concern, that FADs have been used recreationally and by local/artisanal fishermen for decades. The concern now is industrial fisheries, which “put out tens of thousands of drifting fads equipped with satellite transmitters and directional beacons.”

Purse seiners then encircle the fads, taking tons of skipjack but also juvenile bigeye and yellowfin as well as inevitable bycatch of billfish, sharks, turtles and other species.

The trend is “widespread and growing,” according to the video, which asserts that almost half the world’s tuna are already caught with the use of drifting fads, for which there is currently no regulation.