Last Friday, four MMR staff along with Aitutaki fishermen used the ports barge from Arutanga wharf to deploy the man-made devices which will attract pelagic fish such as tuna.
Preparations for the FADs began early in the morning with the uncoiling of 1500 metres of rope for each FAD which is connected to 10 metres of chain attached to a 1.5 tonne concrete block.
Aitutaki now has five deep water FADs and one shallow water FAD.
Local fishermen have requested two extra FADs be deployed in the near future.
On their return to Arutanga wharf, the group were treated to a lunch where speeches were presented by Aitutaki Fishing Association president Long Tuiravakai and secretary Retire Puapii.
Senior fisheries officer Richard Story reminded the fishermen of the need for safety at sea and carrying ice to ensure quality fish.
He also asked that fishermen continue to help MMR to obtain quality data on all their fishing trips, as it enabled the ministry to improve its management strategies for the sustainable management of Cook Islands resources.
More than 300 fishermen are now reporting their catch data to MMR each year. The information is entered into the artisanal fishing database.
The first new FAD is located about 2.5km from motu Motikitiu, the second around 1.5km from motu Rapota, and the third is near motu Maina.
Co-ordinates for the FADs were taken as they were deployed, and their locations are important for fishermen and maritime shipping: Motikitiu FAD S 18 59.503 / W 159 43.876, Rapota FAD S 18 57.231 / W 159 46.600, Maina FAD S 18 55.897 / W 159 52.589.
These new site coordinates will also be shared with Port of Authority and the Aitutaki harbour master to ensure safe navigation by commercial vessels operating in Cook Islands waters.
“The key to the continued success of the FAD programme and its management is actively working with our fishermen. They must be involved in the decision-making and identify sites where they would like FADs deployed,” says Inshore Fisheries and Aquaculture Division director Koroa Raumea.
“In addition, some of the fishers have been supporting the FAD maintenance programme in Aitutaki and MMR has compensated them with fuel and other materials.
This kind of co-operation is important to support local fishermen, who contribute to our islands’ food security and economies.”
Raumea says Tatuava will travel north to Manihiki and Rakahanga to deploy a number of shallow and deep water FADs for the islands.
“While there he will also be conducting site surveys (mapping) and staff mentoring on material rigging, deployment procedures and enhancing the maintenance programme.”
MMR would like to thank Aitutaki Port’s Bim Tou for the use of the barge, the two Rarotonga fisheries officers, Sonny Tatuava and Nga Ronga, the Aitutaki Fishing Association for the lunch on the day including Mii and brothers for the chops, and all the fishermen and their families who prepared the food.