Use of video monitoring to quantify spatial and temporal patterns in fishing activity across sectors at moored fish aggregating devices off Puerto Rico
Keywords:fish aggregating devices, fishery-independent survey, video monitoring, small-scale fisheries, recreational fisheries, Caribbean Sea
A key challenge in small-scale fisheries that use moored fish aggregating devices (mFADs) is the ability to accurately quantify multi-sector fishing activity through fishery-independent methods. Here, we present a novel fishery-independent assessment of multi-sector fishing activity associated with a newly developed open access mFAD programme off San Juan, Puerto Rico. We identified three fishing sectors (recreational, charter and commercial) and 158 individual fishing vessels that routinely operated in the vicinity of the mFADs. The results indicate that daytime fishing activity varied by time of day, day of week, location and sector. During fishing tournaments, the data revealed that fishing activity increased threefold; across monitoring periods, for-hire charter vessels were the most consistent day-to-day user segment, and recreational activity peaked on weekends. Our study represents a new technique for rapidly identifying and detecting multi-sector fishing activity near mFADs and highlights the potential to gather comparable data wherever mFADs are deployed. The results are used to discuss how this technique can be used to assess the performance of mFADs to identify sector overlap and guide management in determining deployment patterns and facilitate the design of cost-effective surveys to estimate mFAD vessel activity, and potentially catch, of mFAD-associated species.
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