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Scientists Looking For Breakthrough To Prevent By-catch On FADs American Samoa, May 22, 13

A veteran group of scientists and fishers will embark on a weeks-long journey through the Pacific in search of better fishing practices, identifying techniques that reduce the potentially wasteful catch of unwanted species.
They’ll be onboard the Cape Finisterre, part of Tri-Marine’s fleet of fishing vessels, for the sixth leg of the ISSF #BycatchProject in a region where roughly 51 percent of the world’s tuna is fished. At least 75 percent of the catch is made by purse seine vessels, which use a net to encircle and catch tuna.
The #BycatchProject aims to reduce by-catch associated with purse seine vessels, particularly those that utilize floating objects, called FADs.

The research team will focus on three main projects, including observing tuna swimming underneath fish aggregating devices (FADs), as well as studying how these fish behave inside the fishing net. This information helps to determine how different species might separate when encircled in a net, which could provide opportunities for releasing the non-targeted catch.

Researchers will also spend part of their trip tracking large marine animals. The survival of these species - such as sharks and manta rays - will be studied through tagging onboard the Cape Finisterre. When the opportunity arises, researchers will handle the animals using identified best practices, tag them and then release them back into the Pacific. Stress or physical damage can prevent them from thriving once released, so tagging and following the released sharks and rays can help to determine their chances of survival.

According to ISSF President Susan Jackson, “Supporting scientific initiatives to reduce the impact of FAD usage on tuna stocks and the greater marine ecosystem is a core component of ISSF’s strategic vision and this cruise promises to advance our understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.”