ISSF Releases New Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide
The ISSF The ISSF Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide lays out best practice in FAD design using biodegradable materials

ISSF Releases New Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide

Aimed at fishermen, RFMOs, governments and vessel owners, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) has published a best-practices guide – based on years of ISSF scientific research and fleet collaboration worldwide, including at skippers workshops – to help accelerate the use of fish aggregating device (FAD) designs with the least possible impact on the marine ecosystem.

The ISSF Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide is the first manual to show, through detailed illustrations, non-entangling (NE) FAD raft and tail designs made with biodegradable materials.

By not using netting in FADs, tuna vessel owners and fishing crews can prevent the entanglement and by-catch of sharks, sea turtles, and other non-target marine species — a serious issue addressed in the guide.

By choosing vegetal instead of plastic-derived materials for FADs, fishermen can avoid contributing to ocean pollution caused by discarded fishing gear. A study estimated that 10% of FADs deployed in tuna fisheries end up stranded and can ensnare sharks and turtles as they drift.

Skippers’ Workshops, such as this meeting in Ecuador, are along-running feature of ISSF’s work. Image: ISSF

ISSF’s Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide also summarises RFMO requirements for FAD designs. For example, as of 2018, four tuna RFMOs require the use of non-entangling designs for FADs. However, they only encourage, rather than require, the use of biodegradable materials.

‘Through our long-running Skippers Workshop program with purse seine fishermen, we’ve observed their growing commitment to better protect marine species and habitats, and their willingness to switch to non-entangling FADs as a necessary step,’ said Dr. Victor Restrepo, ISSF’s Vice President of Science.

‘With help from practical resources like this guide, fishermen can make progress in using biodegradable materials for non-entangling FAD designs – and we also hope to see RFMOs require fully non-entangling and biodegradable designs for FADs.’

The ISSF Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide can be downloaded in English from the ISSF site. Later this year, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese versions will be published. This is the second update of the ISSF NE FAD guide since it was first published in 2012.

Written by ISSF scientists with input from ISSF’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Bycatch Steering Committee, it is designed to assist RFMO and government policymakers in adopting more rigorous, science-based measures for lower-impact FAD designs.