Alarm bell sounded over abuse of fish aggregating devices

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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A reoccurring problem: A photo taken last week by S.I.G.F.A. members of local alia fishermen moored to the Apia F.A.D. putting stress on the device.

A reoccurring problem: A photo taken last week by S.I.G.F.A. members of local alia fishermen moored to the Apia F.A.D. putting stress on the device.

The Samoa international Game Fishing Association (S.I.G.F.A) has sounded the alarm about the abuse and misuse of Fishing Aggregating Devices (F.A.D) by  some local fishermen.

The alarm was sounded by the President of S.I.G.F.A, Poao Frances Hansell, who is calling on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F) to investigate the issue. They have provided pictures for evidence. 

One F.A.D. has already gone missing.

Earlier this year, the Association, with the support of its partners, deployed six devices around Samoa to attract more fish to Samoa’s waters.

But Poao said he is disappointed at the lack of awareness in Samoa. He said such devices are critical not only to boost Samoa’s international game fishing tourism but also to help sustain local food supply and income for Samoans.

“S.I.G.F.A believes that education is key and we would like to call a meeting of M.A.F, members of the alia association, the owners and the skippers of the alia. 

“I don’t think that the education process so far goes all the way to the boys on the boats.”

S.I.G.F.A member and owner of Troppo Fishing adventures, Greg Hopping, said the F.A.D identified as ‘Kiwi-1’ deployed by S.I.G.F.A in Falefa has disappeared.

Last week, Mr. Hopping was on a separate fishing expedition to check on the F.A.D. deployed in Apia, which according to him is the most productive F.A.D in Samoa, when he came across an alia boat moored on the device.

Poao said it has been brought to their attention that this is a common practice.

“The thing is people anchor their alias on the F.A.Ds all day and all night especially the one out at Falefa that is now lost,” said Poao. 

“It was donated by the New Zealand High Commission. The other thing is they run their longlines next to the F.A.Ds so when they rock in the bad weather it ruins the main rope.”

 “We are not doing it just for our fishing tournaments, we are doing it to the benefit of all of us. They cost a lot of time and money – now one is lost. We have no money to replace it and we need to have one for next years’ tournament, at the moment we don’t know what to do.” 

Mr. Hopping says that over the years, S.I.G.F.A members have noticed that local Alias fishing for skip jack and yellow fin to supply the local market have been tying on to the fads which puts pressure on the F.A.Ds. 

“Probably more than 60 percent of all fish we find at the fish market comes from Apia F.A.D so that’s how important that F.A.D is,” said Mr. Hopping. 

“Hopefully we still have it, even though we told those fishermen to untie themselves from the F.A.D doesn’t mean that some other alia hasn’t gone back there and tied off again. We’ve lost one and now we have to concentrate on protecting that one we have in Apia.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Tilafono David Hunter, responded saying they will look to impose the full force of the relevant fisheries laws and regulations to curb these incidences.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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