Devices to boost local fishing industry

Fish attracting devices have being deployed across Samoa waters with the goal of assisting the nation’s nearshore fishing industry. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries [M.A.F.] is working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations [F.A.O.] to deploy the devices known as fish aggregating devices in targeted locations in waters around Savai’i and Upolu.

In a statement released by the F.A.O., the project proponents say a total of six devices were deployed in Falefa, Poutasi, Salailua, Asau, Safotu, and Leulumoega or Faga. It is an initiative of the M.A.F. but the deployment costs were covered by the Japan government and managed by the F.A.O.

According to the F.A.O. the devices are anchored to the sea bottom and have floats at the surface, becoming an attraction for marine life and small fish, which are in turn food for larger high-value fish like tuna.

The design used in the project is commonly called the “Indian Ocean Fishing Aggregating Device” after the region where it was first designed. It is a very simple but effective design that is low cost, long-lasting and highly effective at collecting a variety of tuna and deep-sea species.

The M.A.F Fisheries Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Magele Etuati Ropeti, explained that the new devices programme is a key development activity for the Ministry to support small-scale commercial fisheries.

“Our [fishing device] programme requires hard labour and careful planning and execution, with a top team in M.A.F. Fisheries, we are confident our deployed [devices] will go a long way in helping our small scale fishermen with their livelihoods and food security,” said Magele.

The F.A.O Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands and Representative to Samoa, Eriko Hibi, said in the statement that fish is an important source of food, income and cultural identity. Therefore, the organisation is encouraging sustainable management of coastal resources and promoting safety at sea under the project.

Prior to its departure of the deploying vessels, the ship used for the initiative was loaded with essential equipment for two of the deepwater devices. This included concrete block anchors, hundreds of meters of rope, a string of surface floats and a surface flag marker to make it easier to locate by fishers. 

Alia fishermen are actively involved in the programme, particularly in the identification of preferred for its deployment. Locals also greeted the project team at their arrival at designated sites.

Prior to the deployment, the ocean floor of the selected site was surveyed with a high-quality echo sounder required for the project to assure the correct deployment depth of the fish attraction devices. All six were successfully deployed.

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