Since 2016, 31 fish aggregating devices (FADs) were retrieved off the Australian coast, in a collaborative effort by the Maritime Border Command (MBC), Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The most recent FAD (pictured below) was located 180 nautical miles off Western Australian coast and disposed of in accordance with quarantine requirements. FADs are drifting or anchored buoys or rafts that attract and aggregate pelagic fish, making them easier to find and catch.
FADs can present a navigation hazard to vessels. FADs can impact wildlife directly through entanglement of marine mammals and turtles, these entanglements can limit the animals' ability to swim and feed, which could eventually lead to drowning if the animal is held underwater.
If not properly maintained the FADs can break away from their anchors and drift vast distances, often across boundaries and into Australian waters. It is not possible for AFMA to verify the origin of the FADs which can present biosecurity risks, however in working closely with the Department of Agriculture, AFMA is able to determine the appropriate disposal method.
Keeping Australia’s Commonwealth fisheries sustainable requires healthy oceans, and AFMA contributes to this by working with other Commonwealth agencies in collecting and disposing of FADs located in Australian waters.
It is important to note that some states and territories regulate FADs for recreational fishing purposes, however FADs aren’t currently used in AFMA-managed Commonwealth fisheries. Domestic FADs are anchored, monitored and maintained by state authorities.