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FAD TRACKING
FIA PNG MSC TUNA

FAD TRACKING IN FIA PNG MSC TUNA

In 2016, the FIA PNG domestic tuna fleet started to prepare for achieving the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fishery certification. Since then, FIA PNG committed, developed, and implemented the Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP). We continuously monitor the performance of our tuna fleet members against the RSP requirement.
 

Hereby we want to explain in a simple manner how our FIA PNG tuna fishing companies fish in a sustainable manner in Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs)

1. Our Fishery – 650.000 MT of MSC-certified tuna

The waters of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean produce 60 percent of the world’s tuna—a haul of nearly 3 million metric tons worth almost $7 billion each year. From this Papua New Guinea also catches about 25% of the PNA total and 12% of the global catch. We depend on fishing and healthy Oceans for our livelihoods, our priority is to protect our marine ecosystem and manage our fisheries in a responsible manner, upon which we depend on.

Papua New Guinea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (PNG EEZ), 2.4 million km 2 in extent, is one of the largest and most productive in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Industrial-scale fisheries for tuna and associated species have operated since the 1950s. Commercial fishers utilize five primary techniques for fishing tuna – longline, gillnet, pole and line, purse seine, and troll. Our members fish with purse seine vessels which is the most common commercial technique used around the world.​​

In May 2020,
The Fishing Industry Association of Papua New Guinea (FIA PNG) obtained the Marine Stewardship Council MSC fishery certification for the three tuna commercial species Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares), Bigeye (Thunnus obesus), and Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) swimming in the Archipelagic waters (AW), and Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of PNG.

By March 2023, our domestic tuna fleet was granted access to fish in the WCPFC waters under the authority and monitoring of the National Fishery Authority (NFA).

We have become one of the largest tuna fisheries in the world with access to more than 650.000 MT of tuna swimming in these waters (MSC PNA assessment, 2023)

2. How do we fish - unassociated and associated tuna sets

First of all, we ensure that our tuna sources for future generations by:
 

  • Following science-based and sustainable standards requirements recognized by the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative​ (GSSI) and by ISEAL

  • Implementing labor onboard good practices to provide a good working atmosphere. We believe that happy people will take care of our Oceans. Our assurance due diligence model includes the FISH standard for Crew certification.

  • Train each of our captains, employees, and staff with the FIA PNG good practices to manage in a responsible manner target species and secondary species, also

  • Equipping our vessels with the latest in fishing technology and equipment.

  • Collaborating with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to ensure that each of our vessels has an independent scientific observer on board to guarantee compliance with international standards and with our own vision of sustainability.

  • Collaborating with stakeholders to improve fisheries management including FAD's tracking, monitoring, withdrawal, and marking. Cooperation with academia or scientists to develop research to assess the impact of our fleet in the PNG fishery.
     

3. Fish Aggregating Devices - FADs (associated tuna sets)

In tropical tuna fisheries, around 5 million tonnes were caught in 2020, of which 66 percent of the total catch is made by purse seiners with 36 percent deriving from sets on fish aggregating devices (FADs), 27 percent from unassociated sets (free school), and 3 percent from dolphin sets, which are only observed in the Eastern Pacific (ISSF, 2022). Both artisanal and industrial tuna fisheries have employed for decades FADs because they attract diverse species of fish, including tunas (Taquet et al., 2007).

4. What is a FAD?

 

Fish aggregating devices, also known as FADs, generally refer to artificial, man-made, structures that are deployed in the ocean to attract schools of fish. FADs function as open- ocean "meeting points" with multiple species gathering underneath them. While FAD fishing can be an efficient method for catching large schools of tuna, industrial-scale FAD fisheries can have significant adverse impacts on tunas and other species. A FAD is an artificial object that is anchored or drifting in the open Ocean to attract fish. Most fish aggregating devices have tracking devices attached to them so they can be relocated by tuna purse seine vessels. FADs attract various species of tuna, increasing the efficiency of purse seiner vessels (reducing searching time and fuel consumption as well as increasing fishery production (Sharp 2011). Many species, including vulnerable sharks, are also drawn to FADs and are wastefully discarded at Sea (PEW Charitable Trust, 2013).

5. Difference between a Drifting (dFAD) and an Anchored (aFAD)

 

A drifting fish aggregating device (dFAD) is a form of fishing gear predominantly deployed and used by industrial purse seine tuna fisheries. In the open ocean, many species associate with objects drifting on the surface, such as logs or branches. Over time, fishers realized that they could make their operations more efficient by making their own structures to attract tunas.

 

dFADs, which are left to freely drift at the ocean surface, are usually made up of a floating raft, a tail that hangs in the water, and often poses a severe entanglement threat to marine life, and a satellite buoy so the vessel can track and fish from the device. By aggregating the fish, these devices improve the potential and stability of tuna catches, however, this can have damaging effects on the fish.

 

Nowadays, aFADs are mostly deployed in developing countries where they play a vital role to the food security for coastal communities. An anchored fish aggregating device (aFAD) is an artificial or natural object deployed by fishers for enhancing or gathering pelagic fish resources for capture fisheries. The structure of aFADs mainly consisted of an anchor or sinker, mooring line or rope, and float (Beverly et al. 2012; besides, mid-water aggregators (e.g., rope, fishing net (Beverly et al. 2012) and coconut/palm fronds ) were often attached on the mooring line or under the float. For the deployment, aFADs may be placed in shallow water (50-100 m depth) or deep water (500-1,500 m depth); however, the deep water aFADs are generally more successful in attracting tuna schools than shallow water aFADs.

6. How do we control and monitor our FIA PNG fishery?

We go beyond a commitment, we take action, and we measure our performance against the best practices available to mitigate the impact of Marine litter, Fishing gear, and specially FADs.

 

a. Compliance with PNG FAD management plan 2014

b. Implementing & monitoring Prevention of Pollution by Garbage MARPOL, IMO

c. https://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/Environment/Pages/Garbage-Default.aspx

d. Development of comprehensive due diligence looking at Marine Litter and Fishing Gear 

e. Following Best practices for Tropical Tuna Seiners with emphasis on FADs, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation - ISSF 

f.  Implementation of our RSP FIA PNG Marine Litter and Fishing Gear requirements (ML&FG)

g. Implementing and monitoring Best Practices Framework for fishing gear, Global Ghost Gear Initiative -GGGI 

h. Implementation & monitoring of Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear 2019 - FAO

i.  Implementing & monitoring Directive for Single Used Plastic (SuP), European Commission - EU

j.  Implementing & monitoring Non-Entangling and Biodegradable FADs Guide, ISSF

k. ​Publishing the audit results of our members against the ML&FG requirements in an annual basis

Marked aFADs.png

We are mindful that conservation measures and our RSP ML&FG requirements are only as effective as their correct day-to-day implementation at sea, which ultimately rests in the hands of fishers.  Exchanging knowledge between fishers and FIA PNG office on regular basis is a key element in building trust to assist and help our tuna fleet members. We maintain regular meetings with our Technical Working Group (TWG members) that represent our tuna fishing and processing members.

7. FIA PNG Tuna Fleet FAD Accountability

Since 2014, a drastic reduction of the FADs catches occurred in the Pacific waters. Currently, not all our members are deploying FADs, we share the FIA PNG office control based on a survey and iFIMS verification.

Unassociated tuna sets have been good in the PNG EEZ waters and help our fleet to maintain the reduced catches on FADs. When any of our members decided to deploy FADs based on the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) authorization and allowance; our members deploy a biodegradable or a mixed FAD, which is marked, tracked, and monitored by the NFA. Also, our members comply with the FIA PNG RSP ML&FG requirements that include FADs reporting.

Table # 1: FADs deployed by the FIA PNG Tuna Fleet per year

Table#1 Fads deployed by the fia png tuna fleet per year.png

*Source: Data collected by an annual survey of our FIA PNG tuna fleet members.

*PNA allows 300 FADs per vessel

*NFA PNG allows accountability of aFADs, and recording of dFADs/aFADs in iFIMS mandatory

8. Our annual Tuna catches - 93% unassociated tuna sets or free school

Graph # 1: FIA PNG Tuna Fleet catches per year

Graph 1 FIA PNG Tuna Fleet Catches Per Year.png

Source: iFIMS, NFA

Graph # 2: FIA PNG Tuna Fleet catches per species, per year

Source: iFIMS, NFA

 

An analysis of catch rate by species/group for PNG- and Philippine-flagged tuna purse vessels in the Western Pacific Ocean, from 2001-2022 demonstrates that this is largely a free school fishery (table # 2). FIA PNG tuna fleet is making mainly free school sets, compared to drifting FAD sets, the fishery has reduced catch rates of the main threatened bycatch species of silky sharks, mobulid rays, and odontocetes (toothed whales). And it demonstrates that catch rates of whale sharks and hard-shelled turtles are extremely rare. Also, sets made on anchored FAD have largely been discontinued in recent years (Table # 3). 

Table # 2: Summary of catch rate by species/group for PNG - and Philippine-flagged tuna purse vessels in the western Pacific Ocean, from 2001-2022 per tunas and number for other species groups

Table # 3: Sets made on anchored FAD in the last 8 years

 

9. Our FIA PNG Strategic plan for our fishery
 

  • Comply with the WCPFC CMM looking at FADs, and the NFA PNG FAD Management plan

  • Comply with the MSC fishery standard requirements and the FIA PNG tuna fishery client action plan and thier milestones

  • Comply with the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability Key Data Elements requirements in our real-time traceability platform - Integrated Fisheries Management System (iFIMS) to ensure traceability from the net to the plate per gear per fishing trip.

  • Tracking the progress of our members by annual monitoring (ML&FG) and fishing trip monitoring

  • Collaborating with sceientists and research centers to assess our fishery impact

10. A FAD management plan benchmark for the FIA PNG alignment with FAD good practices

It is a comparison of the good practices contained in our FIA PNG Marine litter and FIshing gear, and how out FIA PNG fleet is aligned with global best practices..

11. Awareness program and Research

Secretariat of Pacific Countries (SPC): Through the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) assistance, FIA PNG reached out to SPC for collaboration in capability building for good practices of endangered, treated, and protected Species (ETP) workshop for our Captains’ fleet and FIA PNG staff. Also, it was requested to support us with updated material regarding Fish Aggregating Devices FADs fisheries good practices. This was done in November 2023.

International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF): Provide a public library with updated videos of good practices for FADs, that include a non-entangling and biodegradable FADs guide. There are videos that explain the good practices onboard for ETP too. We, at FIA PNG, have developed a webinar series and when it is possible a face-to-face workshop with the Captains and Crew of each FIA PNG tuna fleet member. We started in November 2023 to increase the awareness of both mitigation of FADs & FADs guide as well as good practices for ETP in our fisheries. An infographic of the good practices has been placed onboard our tuna fleet as a daily reminder in three (3) languages.

 

FIA-PNG research is being conducted through a grant from the Marine Stewardship Council.

FIA-PNG and The Safina Center have received a grant from the Marine Stewardship Council’s Science and Research Fund to identify spatial and temporal hotspots and coldspots of catch rates of target tuna species and threatened bycatch species such as silky sharks, rays and whale sharks. Findings will identify additional effective and commercially viable options for bycatch management, and support implementation of our MSC client action plan to address conditions related to minimizing fishery impacts on endangered, threatened, and protected species.

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