Community comes to the rescue of storm-battered FADs

We’ve had a fantastic response from both Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Team and Perth Game Fishing Club member Dylan Picken, who came to the rescue for three FADs that were smashed adrift from their moorings during last week’s storm.

With great weather over the last few weeks, we have been happy to receive positive reports of plenty of fish being caught off the Recfshwest FADs around the State, which were deployed as part of a three-year trial program in November last year.

Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue Team bringing one of the stray Albany FADs home.

Unfortunately, the storms that impacted the south-west coastline recently wrenched a number of FADs breaking free of their moorings. Three of the four FADs deployed off Cape Naturaliste broke free of their moorings and currently only Number 4 remains anchored in place. A couple of other FADs deployed as part of the trial were also lost off the Albany coastline prior to the storm. However, the fantastic team from Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue stepped in to retrieve both drifting FADs, which had drifted some 260 nautical miles east of their moorings to the Recherche Archipelago thanks to a strong Leeuwin Current  – huge thanks to the marine rescue guys from us on behalf of the recfishing community for their efforts.

Also earning a big shout-out is Perth Game Fishing Club member, and red-hot keen recfisher, Dylan Picken, who spotted and retrieved one of the Cape Naturaliste FADs that came adrift following the storms that lashed the south-west coast last week. Dylan came across one of the FADs while fishing out from Dawesville Cut and was able to safely bring it back to shore for us. The FAD was around 50 nautical miles north east of its original position when retrieved by Dylan.

Thanks to both Dylan and the Esperance crew’s efforts we will now be able to look at redeploying them next summer. With winter fast setting in, these recovered FADs will not be re-deployed immediately and the remaining ones including those off the Perth metropolitan coast will be retrieved until they are put back out in November for the second year of the trial.

We are already learning a great deal how to evolve the FADs program during this initial three-year trial and will look to improve how the devices are rigged and anchored going forward. We’ve deployed different types of FADs in different locations to assess their suitability with all the devices having satellite trackers placed inside them, so we are able to track them if they come adrift. This also means when conditions are suitable and, if in range, the FADs can be retrieved so we can learn more about why they came loose in the first place. We will continue to refine locations and the design of these FADs to improve their ability to aggregate fish, but to also improve their robustness.

If you have been fishing the FADs, make sure to send us in your pictures. We currently have a FADs photo comp still running and by sending us in a high quality pic of fish caught at the FADs you can be in for the running to win Shimano Stella 5000. Click here to find out more.

Brian Norton got stuck into this dolphinfish at the Recfishwest metro FADS

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