This past summer, Okaloosa County’s tourism department deployed the first fish aggregating device (FAD) buoys ever off the coast of the continental United States. Anglers are already targeting big pelagic species around the devices.
These FAD buoys are widely used in Japan, where the technology has been fine-tuned for the best results. The buoys are approximately 15 feet tall and are anchored by 32,000 pounds of concrete to keep them from shifting from their deployment location. The majority of the structure exists below the waterline, providing structure for smaller fish which become food for larger species of pelagic fish like tuna, marlin and mahi mahi.
The deployment took place at four locations found 60-80 miles offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
“The deployment went extremely smooth and there were already fish associating with the buoys shortly after deployment. We even had a white marlin show up while we were deploying the buoys, so we must be placing these in good locations,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager at Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
Over the next few months, the FAD buoys will be monitored to ensure they are enduring and performing well. Four more buoys, with weather stations, will be deployed in coming months.
Coordinates for the Okaloosa County FAD buoys and artificial reef sites can be found at www.destinfwb.com.