According to Senior Fishery Officer Sonny Tatuava, two FAD lights disappeared from the Panama and Tikioki sites. Tatuava’s team, responsible for the FAD maintenance programme, had just replaced a battery for one of the missing strobe lights two days before it disappeared.
The removal or covering of FAD lights has been an ongoing issue, leading to complaints from fishers who use the sites.
President of the Cook Islands Fishing Association and chair of the FAD Committee, Don Beer said he is disappointed that the issue is starting to resurface.
“In the past, such practices were quite frequent. The first fishers to the FAD sites in the early hours of the morning would block the lights by wrapping it in a towel to prevent it from being seen other fisher trying to locate the FAD. To see lights being removed now is undermining the good work carried out by MMR staff and the work of the committee in managing our FADs programme,” said Beer.
Tatuava also retrieved a number of lures and hooks from the Panama FAD site which indicate not all fishers are observing the FAD rules. He said the hooks and lures can accelerate the process of wear and tear on the ropes and other components of the FADs.
Beer is urging fishers to continue to practice responsible fishing techniques and to observe the rules around fishing in FAD areas.
FADs were designed to help local fishermen catch fish in greater quantities, more safely and more easily. They are typically made up of a large concrete weight attached to rope which is attached to floats on the surface. FADs cost between $5-7000 to construct and deploy – there are currently 11 FAD sites around Rarotonga.-MMR Release
Who can use the FADs?
- All fishermen who are registered with any of the Rarotonga Fishing Clubs, who are also affiliated to Cook Islands Fishing Association.
- Fishing boats being registered with MOT having met the safety requirements.
What types of fishing allowed at the FAD sites?
- Trolling, hand line, long line, spearfishing, harpooning (in order of priority and access).
What types of fishing are unacceptable at the FAD?
- Long lining, no tying on the FAD.
- Spearfishing/harpooning – should be at least two km from the FAD.
- Floaters with hooks – a distance of two-four km should be observed by those using this method.