The effectiveness of midwater fish attraction devices (FADs) in attracting harvestable concentrations of fish was tested at the Hydrolab undersea habitat 3–10 February 1983. Three midwater FAD designs deployed in the Salt River Submarine Canyon off the northern coast of St. Croix,
U.S.V.I. at two natural reefs, Hydrolab and in the submarine canyon were assessed to determine: (1) composition, abundance and behavior of attracted species; (2) recruitment time and daily variation in abundance of attracted species; (3) effect of adjacent natural reefs on attractability of
FADs; and (4) attractive differences of respective FAD designs. The 20 species attracted to FADs concentrated around FADs in the early morning, exhibited maximum densities between morning and midday, and left FADs in the afternoon. Differences in fish attraction were the result of FAD position
and not design. Greatest species diversity and abundance occurred at FADs located next to natural reefs where resident species used FADs to extend the distance that they could venture from these reefs. Fishes attracted to midcanyon FADs primarily were pelagic species recruited from adjacent
coastal waters. Deployment of an adequate number of strategically positioned FADs should enhance the potential for aggregating harvestable concentrations of commercially- and recreationally-important fishes.
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