Palau is ramping up efforts to implement the ongoing nationwide program for the anchored fishing aggregating device (FADs) to support the artisanal fisheries and alleviate pressure on Palau’s reef fish.

FADs are used to attract pelagic fish, making them easier to catch. The program makes use   of anchored FADs, which are located near coastal areas.

Dr. Vanessa Jaiteh Fisheries Scientist and Advisor to Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) on fisheries data management said the aim of the program is to support domestic fisheries in preparation for the full implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS) by January 1, 2020.

The initiative by the Bureau of Marine Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Natural Resources Environment and Tourism (PNMS) is a program that will help small-scale fisherman to gain access to pelagic fish within Palau’s waters.

Since 2013, BMR has deployed almost 20 FADs with materials donated by SPC with PNMS in 2017 also joined effort to revive the use of FADs so that fishing efforts could be transferred to nearshore pelagic fish like tuna.

PNMS in partnership with BMR has also deployed FADS in state waters to increase local fishermen’s fishing efficiency.

Jaiteh said although some FADs deployed in 2013 might have been lost, there are still at least 10 FADs anchored in  Palau waters.

She said from the FADs, “artisanal fisherman who doesn’t travel far like the longliners would be able to benefit from these resources.”

She said this year BMR is planning to deploy four more FADs and focus efforts on maintaining the existing ones.

In connection with the FADs program, a strategic plan is being developed which will include monitoring and evaluation and collection of data to find out if they work.

The Anchored FADs are deployed 230-meter water, placed at a shorter distance beyond the outer reefs.

FADs can also help improve recreational fishing in Palau. (Bernadette H. Carreon)