Last Wednesday, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, FL, the tourism department of Okaloosa County, completed the final deployment of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). This completes an eight-buoy network off the coast of Destin-Fort Walton Beach and is the first in the continental United States. The deployment took place at 4 locations found 60-80 miles offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
Last Tuesday, the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to name the eight-buoy network in honor of former Commissioner, Captain Kelly Windes.
“We have been working on the deployment of the FAD network for five years and are thankful for Kelly Windes and his unwavering support. It is an honor to have them named after such a great man and steward of our community,” said Jennifer Adams, Director, Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
The first four buoys in the Captain Kelly Windes FAD Buoy Network were deployed in August of 2020 and have already proven to be a success. There are reports that a variety of pelagic fish species such as tuna, marlin, and mahi mahi have already been caught at the FAD sites.
The first buoys were manufactured in Japan, where FADs are widely used and the technology has been fine-tuned. Their specific design has been successful in areas that experience stronger storm systems and the first four buoys did not sustain any damage during tropical storm systems this past fall.
The final four buoys are a different design than the first. These buoys are bright yellow and resemble a generic channel buoy that is large in size. Two of the new buoys are affixed with weather reporting equipment that will provide real-time weather data so visitors can plan their trips around safer, more comfortable weather conditions.
“It was a long day on the water but we got it done,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager, Destin-Fort Walton Beach. “All eight buoys are now in place and I look forward to hearing reports from visitors to the completed FAD network. I’m also happy that we will have a couple of weather stations offshore, where we really lack reporting or historic stations are no longer functional.”
The FAD buoy network will be monitored throughout the year to ensure they are holding up and performing well. Destin-Fort Walton Beach will also be collaborating with universities throughout the County to better understand fish interactions and human use associated with the FAD network.
|FAD Buoy Number||Latitude||Longitude||Charted Depth (ft)|
|2||29° 27.342||-87° 07.036||1,610|
|3||29° 23.353||-87° 11.166||1,822|
|6||29° 20.887||-86° 52.748||1,715|
|7||29° 14.914||-86° 52.815||1,830|