Community FAD Projects

Modern fish aggregation devices (FADs), which are  buoys  anchored in depths between 100 -1000 fathoms, have been used in Hawaii for decades as an effective method to attract pelagic species targeted by commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishermen. For generations, Native Hawaiian fishermen have tended ko’a, or fishing shrines in the ocean, by placing stones or food in a distinct locations which attracted fish like opelu.

Since 1980, the State of Hawaii FAD Program ( has been maintaining a network of FADs with federal funding to promote recreational fishing opportunities. However, in recent years fishermen have been deploying private FADs (PFADs) within State (0-3 nm) and Federal (3-200 nm) waters around Hawaii. All of these PFADs have been illegally deployed in that the owners have not acquired appropriate authorization from the U.S. Coast Guard or, if applicable, other authorizing agencies. The proliferation of PFADs in Hawaii has raised questions such as what effects, if any, are the FADs having on the movements or migration patterns of species such as yellowfin and bigeye tuna; what types of fish are attracted to FADs (including their life stage); the rate or duration of retention; and the effects on seasonal fish movements. FADs are popular because they can reduce search time for fish, and given the current fuel prices, more time catching and less time searching is important.

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (Council) recognizes the potential community benefits of legally permitted, and properly located and maintained FADs. In 2006, the Council worked with Hana fishermen to establish the first legally established community FAD in the State (Report of Hana Community FAD project). The Council supports community development programs aimed at utilizing marine resources in a sustainable manner while facilitating and supporting cooperative research with fishermen. The Council also recognizes that the FADs are increasingly becoming a management issue and that scientific information regarding the effect of FADs on targeted pelagic species is largely lacking.

The Council is currently working with fishermen from Hawaii and Guam on community FADs projects. For example, for the Kahului community FAD, the Council is involved in a private/public partnership with Mama’s Fish House, which provided funding to deploy the FADs using permits maintained by the Council. Mama’s Fish House is helping the Council collect fishing logbooks that fishermen submit on a voluntary basis to the Council.  The goals of  community FADs projects are to support cooperative research, provide community benefits, and compliment the FAD programs of local jurisdictions.

Council supported community FADs are public and fishable by everyone, but please use best practices by not tying up to or wrapping lines around the FAD. Further, the Council requests that if fishing on a community FAD that a voluntary catch log be submitted to the Council, which provided the Council an understanding of the number of fish caught, size, and fishing effort associated with the FAD. If successful, the Council is interested in working with other fishing communities throughout the Western Pacific Region on community FAD projects.

Locations of Community FADs currently deployed listed in Degrees and Decimal Degrees (Due to currents and wind, FADs may be within 2 miles of locations listed below):

  • Hana Community FAD 1 (HC1)- 20° 37.300′ N, 155 52.296′ W (Deployed)
  • Maui Community FAD 1 (MFH1)- 21° 17.783′ N, 156 16.650′ W (Deployed)
  • Maui Community FAD 2 (MFH2)-21° 11.083′ N, 155 50.008′ W (Not Deployed)
  • West Hawaii Community FAD 1 (WH1)- 19° 23.416′ N, 156 16.833′ W (Not Deployed)
  • Kauai Community FAD 1 (KC1)- 22° 25.518′ N, 159 6.956′ W (Not Deployed)
  • Guam Community FAD 1 (GC1)- 13°44. 400′ N, 144 39.680′ E (Not Deployed)
  • Maui Community FAD (MTBC1): 21 20.0 N, -156 28.48 W (Not Deployed)