Fish Aggregating Devices are a serious driver of overfishing, which is why Greenpeace is on a mission to dismantle all the FADs it can find.
The tuna fishing industry is rife with problems, from serious human rights abuses, including enslavement of workers on fishing vessels, to the grotesque amounts of bycatch (unwanted marine species) that are caught in nets while hauling in the tuna. The scope of problems is so wide that it’s difficult to know where to start, but Greenpeace has set its focus on the issue of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) in an effort to disrupt the destructive fishing practices conducted by industrial tuna giant Thai Union.
FADs are a major source of bycatch. They float on the surface of the sea and attract huge numbers of tuna, which makes it easier to scoop them up in industrial-size purse-seine nets and haul onto the fishing vessel. This also means that all other species swimming in the area, also attracted to the FAD, get caught too. These could be threatened sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, juvenile tuna, and countless other species of fish. The short video clip below shows beautiful silky sharks swimming around an FAD.
Greenpeace has sent its ship Esperanza to the Indian Ocean, where it is currently in the process of dismantling all of Thai Union’s FADs that it encounters in the sea. These devices don’t look like much – almost like floating rafts of junk, tethered by a rope – but they are a serious driver of overfishing, which is contributing to the near collapse of the tuna industry, particularly Yellowfin.
François Chartier is an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace France. He states in a press release:
“The tide is turning on companies who think they can continue plundering the oceans and turning a blind eye to exploitation in their supply chains. People want to know that the tuna they’re buying doesn’t come at the expense of the oceans and those who work on them. If Thai Union doesn’t want to clean up the dirty tuna in its supply chains, then we are going to do it for them by taking action from sea to shelf.”
Thai Union supplies tuna to brands such as Chicken of the Sea, which is sold at Walmart. Some of its tuna is also used for pet food, which is something to consider if you own a cat. In the meantime, consumers should educate themselves as to which brands have better fishing practices and worker protection. You can visit Greenpeace’s Canned Tuna Shopping Guide (2015). Alternatively, consider giving up tuna altogether. There are other better and safer ways to get one’s protein instead of supporting an industry that’s pretty much contaminated all the way through.
Join the Greenpeace campaign: #NotJustTuna