Status and trends of moored fish aggregating device (MFAD) fisheries in the Caribbean and Bermuda
- The use of moored fish aggregating devices (MFADs) has greatly expanded in the Caribbean region in recent decades.
- States vary widely in the size, ownership institutions, and management of their MFAD fisheries.
- Lack of management may degrade potential MFAD benefits and increase risk of negative social and ecological outcomes.
Moored fish aggregating devices (MFADs) are promoted throughout global small-scale fisheries as tools to enhance livelihoods and shift fishing pressure onto offshore resources. A particularly large number of projects initiating and encouraging MFAD development have occurred in the Caribbean region. Despite ongoing promotion of MFAD fisheries in the region, there is limited understanding of their current extent, distribution, and management across Caribbean states. Here we integrate key informant surveys with a supporting literature review to generate the first comprehensive overview of MFAD fishery status and trends in the insular Caribbean and Bermuda. While regional growth has been substantial, we find wide diversity among states in terms of the number of MFADs deployed, MFAD ownership (private or public), fleet engagement, and the existence and enforcement of MFAD regulations. Our results suggest that despite the presence of regulations in some states, management limitations and private MFAD ownership may be associated with a rapid proliferation of deployed MFADs across the Caribbean. We discuss the critical role of management and monitoring in attaining the anticipated benefits of MFAD fisheries and reducing social and environmental risks. By documenting the diverse paths that MFAD fisheries have taken in different states, this study provides an opportunity for prospective and existing MFAD programs to better evaluate the risks and rewards associated with MFADs and to design appropriate management.
Keywords: FAD fisheries, Moored fish aggregating devices, Small-scale fisheries