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Appetite Could Lure Sharks Away From Deadly FADs

Controversy around the use of fish-aggregating devices (FADs) to catch tuna mainly stems from the amount of unwanted species taken up by the floating objects, and one group of researchers is exploring a possible solution.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         In the Indian Ocean, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) is trying to lure sharks, often caught and killed as by-catch, away from the FADs by distracting them with a bag of chum in the water. In the video below, the researchers talk about how they got the small sharks to follow their bait as their boat drifted away from the FAD. This could possibly be a promising future technique to save large numbers of sharks.
The ISSF says the number of sharks associated with FADs can be as high as 30, but typically it’s less than 10. Often these sharks die in the process of getting the tuna catch onboard.
“Around the FAD, most of the time when you have sharks, it’s less than 10 sharks. You can sometimes have 20-30 sharks, but it’s usually less than 10, so you’re not dealing with many individuals,” says scientist Laurent Dagorn in the ISSF video.
Given the extensive use of FADs around the globe – the PEW environment group estimates that the number of drifting FADs put into the oceans each year ranges from 47,000–105,000 – even 10 sharks associated with one set is a lot, and can have massive impact on the global shark population.
While FADs are more efficient in time and money for fishermen, they do yield higher rates of by-catch compared to targeting free swimming schools of skipjack.  However additional techniques  to reduce FAD by-catch significantly could make future catch operations onboard more complicated.