Skip to main content




Fisheries Managers Must Act to Improve the Management of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in Indian Ocean Tuna Fisheries

At last year’s annual meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), ISSF welcomed the collaborative spirit among members of the regional fisheries management organization (RFMO). Cooperation and consultation between members is essential for the effective functioning of tuna RFMOs. This approach must continue at IOTC this year as fisheries managers tackle an ongoing challenge they have yet to sufficiently address — more robust management of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries.

Purse seine sets on floating objects (mostly FADs) account for around 38% of the world’s tropical tuna catch, nearly 1.9 million tonnes. And in the Indian Ocean specifically, FAD sets account for nearly 35% of tropical tuna catches (37% of skipjack, 22% of yellowfin, and 43% of bigeye). More comprehensive FAD management and monitoring by IOTC will lead to more sustainable management of the three Indian Ocean tropical tuna stocks — two of which are overfished and subject to overfishing — as well as mitigate other ecosystem impacts. (You can learn more about these fisheries-and-ecosystem effects, and the science-based work to address them, in a new interactive web feature on the ISSF website:

The IOTC has been grappling with FAD management for several years and considering how best to strengthen its existing resolution on FADs. Unfortunately, a number of important FAD management improvements have not been adopted or have not been able to be implemented. These items therefore persist as part of our priority appeals to Indian Ocean fisheries managers, outlined in our 2024 position statement.

This year, the IOTC has several FAD management proposals from various members to consider, and the good news is that there are common elements across these proposals. If adopted, such elements would measurably improve how FADs are used and managed in the Indian Ocean, reducing the impacts of FADs on the ecosystem and increasing monitoring of these devices at sea. These common, best-practice items include:

  • Adopting a timeline to transition to the use of biodegradable FADs
  • Establishing an IOTC-wide FAD register for FAD monitoring
  • Establishing science-based limits on the number of operational FADs consistent with management objectives for tropical tunas
  • Establishing a FAD marking scheme
  • Reporting of lost or abandoned FADs

All of these points are among the established FAD management enhancements ISSF and its stakeholders have been advocating for across all tuna RFMOs.

We acknowledge that there are aspects of the FAD management discussion that are especially complex. In certain instances, positions among IOTC members may diverge. But we urge IOTC members to recognize the need to make progress now. It is well past time for united action for more effective management of FADs in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries. It is our hope that progress on these areas of common interest will provide a solid foundation for future cooperation and agreement among all IOTC parties on other important conservation and management challenges.




Categories: ,