Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs)
Purse seine vessels and most handline vessels make use of fish aggregating devices (FAD’s) to attract tunas that school around these floating objects. Algae and other marine plants grow on the floating device, which attract small fishes and in turn attract tuna and other predatory fish. These FADs or locally known as “payaos” are made from a large concrete sinker with a thick rope of up to 1,000 meters connected to it. Numerous coconut leaves are tied to the rope to create habitats for small fishes to attract the tuna.
The FADs are permanently deployed and anchored to the sea bottom and only fishermen and boat owners who own the FAD can fish around it. The national government actively supports fishermen in deploying more FAD’s. Most NGO’s however, oppose this practice in purse seine fisheries because there are numerous environmental impacts associated with the use of FAD’s, including increased amounts of bycatch and increased landings of undersized juvenile tuna.
There is no associated live bait fishery for tuna fishers in the Philippines. The handline fishery uses baited lured with squid and small pelagic fish as bait. Fishermen catch these baitfish at the start of the fishing trip using a short surface hook and line or by using a surface light to attract the squid, after which they are netted.
The longline fishery also uses baitfish. Smaller longline vessels catch their own baitfish in a similar fashion as tuna handliners, while bigger longline vessels traditionally buy mackerel and squid in public auctions. However with increasing prices for baitfish, longliners have recently started using cultured milkfish to replace the squid and mackerel.
The Philippine fishing fleet consists of approximately 500,000 vessels of which over 98% are small, municipal vessels. These wooden canoes, locally known as “bangka’s”, are below 3 GT and about 60% of them are not motorized. These bangka’s were responsible for approximately 1.2 million MT of the total catch in 2015, which corresponds to 53% of the annual landings in the country.
Only about 6,731, or less than 2%, of these vessels are large(r) commercial vessels that fish in commercial waters (15 kilometer or more from the shoreline). These vessels use a large variety of fishing gears including purse seines, ring nets (small purse seines), gill nets, handline and longlines. These vessels landed the remaining 47% of the total catch, which corresponded to 1.1 million MT in 2015.