Swimming with Tuna in the Coral Triangle? | WWF

Swimming with Tuna in the Coral Triangle?

Posted on 07 March 2013    
Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) feeding in the Mediterranean Sea.
© Frédéric BASSEMAYOUSSE / WWF Mediterranean
In efforts to find innovative solutions to the region’s escalating tuna fishing problems, WWF has produced a video, which showcases the novel idea of using Fish Aggregating Devices or FADs—floating objects at sea used by fishers to attract large schools of fish, including tuna—for ecotourism.

Turning FADs to TADs—Tourist Aggregating Devices—is one of the several solutions that came out of a Tuna Think Tank Workshop conducted by WWF in 2010, where experts from varied fields of study came together to generate new approaches to reform tuna fisheries management in the Coral Triangle region.

Watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/50659133.

“This is just one of many interesting ideas that came out of the workshop, which fisheries managers can perhaps start thinking about or learn from to help ease pressure on heavily-fished tuna resources. Such ideas may work in certain areas under the right conditions,” says Dr. Jose Ingles, WWF Coral Triangle Program Strategy Leader.

FADs are mostly man-made structures placed at sea as anchored or floating devices designed to attract schools of fish, allowing fishers to find their catch in more predicable ways, without the expensive overhead costs associated with searching vast areas for fish.

However, the wide use of FADs throughout the Coral Triangle in small and large-scale commercial fisheries has placed tremendous stress on the region’s already dwindling tuna resources.

“The use of FADs has increasingly become a serious issue in the Coral Triangle because it also attracts juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tunas, mainly through their association with schools of skipjack,” says Dr. Jose Ingles.

The Coral Triangle, which encompasses the seas of six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, is a known tuna nursery area and migratory path.

Bigeye and yellowfin tuna, two of the key species found in the Coral Triangle region, are now fully exploited.

“Turning FADs to TADs could be a way to reduce the fishing mortality of juvenile tunas by diverting fishing intensity around FADs to local tourism, while maintaining income for communities without compromising fish stocks,” says Dr. Ingles.

“Diving around these FADs may also help educate people on how the ocean ecosystem functions and can help raise awareness on issues surrounding tunas and FADs,” adds Dr. Ingles

While there are no exact figures on the number of FADs being used in the region, their use in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines are estimated to be in the tens of thousands.

“While we recognize that it will certainly take a lot more than this to address the juvenile tuna catching issue around FADs, it’s always important for fisheries managers and local communities to explore out-of-the-box ideas to help alleviate such problems,” says Dr. Ingles.

Watch the From FADs to TADs video here: https://vimeo.com/50659133

For more information on WWF’s work around tuna, visit: www.panda.org/coraltriangle/tuna

Editors note:
  • The Coral Triangle—the nursery of the seas—is the world’s center of marine life, encompassing around 6 million sq km of ocean across six countries in Asia-Pacific – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.
  • It is home to 76% of the world’s known coral species, 37% of the world’s coral reef fish species, and commercially-valuable species such as tuna, whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, including 6 of the world’s 7 known species of marine turtles.
  • Tuna caught in the Coral Triangle makes for about 30 per cent of the total global tuna catch, contributing as much as 35 per cent to the total tuna catch coming from the Western Central Pacific Ocean, which accounts for more than half the world’s tuna production.
  • The Coral Triangle directly sustains the lives of more than 120 million people and contains key spawning and nursery grounds for tuna. Its reef and coastal systems also underpin a growing tourism sector.
  • WWF is working with governments, local communities, businesses, and consumers to promote sustainable development in this region. For information on Coral Triangle go to: www.panda.org/coraltriangle
For further information:

Paolo P. Mangahas, Communications Manager, WWF Coral Triangle Programme, Tel: +603 7803 3772, Email: pmangahas@wwf.org.my
Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) feeding in the Mediterranean Sea.
© Frédéric BASSEMAYOUSSE / WWF Mediterranean Enlarge

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