Working group and projects history

History of anchored FAD fishing in the Caribbean

The history of the development of anchored FADs in the Caribbean is difficult to trace because experiments were obviously made without being recorded in official literature. Oldest experiments were made within a UNDP/FAO project between 1965 and 1971.

Going from experiments to common use by professionals was hampered especially by difficulties linked to positioning of the devices (too close to the coast or in areas where pelagic fish would circulate and where fishing activities were already developed under another form), construction of the devices leading to short lifetime and ill-adapted fishing techniques. Surface trolling lines are generally the first techniques used. Switching to drifting vertical long lines targeting bigger fish allows for substantial increase of the catches made on each trip.

It is during the 1990s that anchored FAD fishing developed in the Caribbean region. Such development was particularly called for by small island states that only practice small-scale traditional fishing whose monitoring is difficult to implement that is difficult to regulate. The diversification of fishing activities through an increase of activity on offshore resources seemed to be a means to solve the issues of a profession with little adaptation capacities on the short term. That development policy of anchored FADs fits within a regional context of raising landings of offshore pelagic fish landings in continental states of the area (Reynal et al. 2000).


History of the working group on sustainable development of anchored FAD fishing

Due to the development of anchored FAD fishing that seemed to increase in the 1990s in the French Antilles, an international symposium on “Tuna fishing and fish aggregating devices” was organized in Martinique in 1999 (*). Following that symposium, Ifremer and FAO/WECAFC’s secretary decided to set up an ad hoc Lesser Antilles working group on sustainable development of anchored FAD fishing.

A first working group was thus formed at Ifremer, in Le Robert (Martinique) on October 8-11, 2001. During that meeting the mandate of the working group (FAO Fisheries report No 683) (*) as well as first works and themes of study on the topic (FAO Fisheries report No 683, Suppl.) (*) were proposed. The working group was approved during WECAFC’s tenth plenary meeting, in Bridgetown (Barbados) on October 24-27, 2001 (see excerpts of report of WECAFC’s tenth session) (*).

Following the first working group, Ifremer carried out a “Dolphin” research project in Martinique with the assistance of IRD in order to fuel the working group’s debates with new knowledge. The main objective was on the one hand to characterize and quantify aggregations of fish around anchored FADs, and on the other hand, to professional fishing activities and its catches.

A second meeting of the FAO/WECAFC-Ifremer working group on FADs took place in Saint-Claude (Guadeloupe) on July 5-10, 2004. It enabled the introduction of the works performed under the “Dolphin” project, and to brainstorm about FAD mooring locations or FAD management systems (*). During that second working group, the idea of conducting a new project in the inter-sessional period was put forward. Such proposal was submitted to WECAFC’s plenary session in 2005, in Port of Spain (Trinidad), on October 25-28, 2005. The MAGDELESA (Moored fish AGgregating DEvices in the LESser Antilles) project (*) was defined with the states of the Lesser Antilles and Haiti during an INTERREG micro project meeting, in Terre-de-Haut des Saintes (Guadeloupe), on December 4-8, 2006. This project co-funded by FEDER in the framework of the Caribbean INTERREG program was conducted over 3 years between 2011 and 2014.


Organisation of the FAD Working Group

The third meeting of the working group in Kingstown, (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) convened on December 9-11, 2013 (*). That working group was extended to the entire WECAFC region. CRFM as well as JICA and its CARIFICO project (*) associated to WECAFC and Ifremer on the occasion to form a working group coordination committee along with Dominica’s fisheries. Mr. Andrew MAGLOIRE facilitates the latter. Recommendations on sustainable development of anchored FAD fishing were proposed during that working group (*). WECAFC’s plenary meeting in Port of Spain (Trinidad) on March 26-28, 2014 renewed the working group on anchored FADs and adopted recommendations related to responsible fishing using FADs in the WECAFC area (*).