OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County tourism department says two Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) have broken loose in the Gulf of Mexico and is reminding boaters to not tie up to the buoys.
Coastal Resource Manager Alex Fogg said FAD 6 broke loose on October 4, 2021. The second one, FAD 5, broke right near the end of 2021.
FADs are giant buoy structures 60-80 miles offshore that attract large game fish like mahi-mahi, marlin and tuna. This helps anglers and charter captains find a place to fish without searching for hundreds of miles.
The FADs are not meant as mooring buoys for vessels and the Coastal Resource team is encouraging boaters to stop tieing up to them to prevent any future damage.
Crews from Walter Marine in Gulf Shores, Ala., were able to locate the first buoy for damage on October 7. The second buoy has also been recovered.
Fogg said the line on the FAD 6 broke off 900 feet down. The Buoy was placed in 1,700 feet of water. Crews from Taylor Engineering inspected FAD 6 and found the mooring to be chaffed and the line was burned.
Multiple dock lines were still attached to the buoy showing evidence of vessels that had tied up to the FAD.
The Taylor Engineering assessment says the mooring damage was caused by friction. Adding vessels on the top creates more work for those lines. While it might not cause it to break initially, it can over time.
Fogg said FAD 5 was broken 100 feet down the line.
Taylor Engineering said FAD 6 will be able to redeploy once repairs are made. The Coastal Resource office does not have a time frame on when it will be back in the water.
More information on FADs:
Destin- Fort Walton Beach marks the first place in the continental US with a FAD system. Four were placed unto the Gulf in August of 2021. Now the department has 8 FADs offshore.
Okaloosa County said the FADs are equipped with real-time weather stations for accurate reporting.
To find out more about the FADs and the artificial reef program on the Emerald Coast, click here.