Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) have become increasingly adopted as a means of improving fisheries production. However, many FAD deployments have not achieved their potential due to poor planning. Whilst FADs have usually aggregated fish as intended, the social and economic benefits derived from their deployment have frequently not been suitably monitored or quantified, and national authorities have often, therefore, been unwilling to continue funding their deployment.

There is therefore a need for a better understanding of the biological, social and economic factors determining a successful FAD programme, and for guidance for fisheries managers on the development, planning and monitoring required in order to achieve and quantify the benefits expected.


The project investigated the factors for a successful FAD programme, and the socio-economic effects of their deployment, through conducting FAD trials in the South Pacific (Fiji and Vanuatu). Through analysis of fisheries catch data, market and other socio-economic data, and subsequent modelling, the deployment factors for success, and appropriate economic measures for assessment were determined.


The project successfully produced a handbook, in collaboration with the South Pacific Commission, which is a practical guide to planning and developing a FAD programme. It covers how to quantify the potential benefits and costs of a programme, and describes the use of simple assessment methods that will assist FAD programme managers to develop sustainable FAD programmes. The handbook includes a computer disk containing the spreadsheets described for the economic analysis.

From the trials, it was found that shallow water FADs were most successful in areas where there were no natural features (eg, small islands, reef patches) which could disturb their effect. There were indications that the biological mechanisms contributing to successful FADs were associated with pelagic larvae settlement, and predator avoidance.

For assessing the economic effects of FAD productivity, simple measures such as internal rate of return, and benefit/cost rates were found to be useful, but sensitive to, for example, price changes in local markets.

Consideration of various scenarios demonstrated that, even if the returns expected from a FAD programme are significant, large losses of revenue can occur when the programme is neglected, and particularly when fishing operations are affected because lost FADs are not quickly replaced.