Fish aggregating devices, or FADs, are used widely in developing countries to concentrate pelagic fish, making them easier to catch. Nearshore FADs anchored close to the coast allow access for rural communities, but despite their popularity among policy makers, there is a dearth of empirical analysis of their contributions to the supply of fish and to fisheries management. In this paper we demonstrate that nearshore FADs increased the supply of fish to four communities in Solomon Islands. Estimated total annual fish catch ranged from 4300 to 12 000 kg across the study villages, with nearshore FADs contributing up to 45% of the catch. While it is clear that FADs increased the supply of fish, FAD catch rates were not consistently higher than other fishing grounds. Villages with limited access to diverse or productive fishing grounds seemingly utilized FADs to better effect. Villagers believed FADs increased household income and nutrition, as well as providing a source of fish for community events. FADs were also perceived to increase intrahousehold conflict and reduce fishers' participation in community activities. FADs need to be placed within a broader rural development context and treated as another component in the diversified livelihoods of rural people; as with other livelihood options they bring trade-offs and risks.