Bottom fish anglers in the Atlantic from the coast of North Carolina south through the Florida Keys could soon be required to have descending devices onboard and available for release of unwanted fish while fishing for snapper and grouper species.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved the measure at its September meeting. If approved by NOAA Fisheries, the requirement will likely go into effect in late 2020. Additionally, the use of non-offset, non-stainless-steel circle hooks could be required.
The new requirements are part of a package of “best practices” the council has been considering for the snapper and grouper fishery. It addresses the results of federal research that shows mortality rates of almost 30 and 40 percent for red snapper released by the recreational and commercial sectors, respectively.
“The bottom line is that many important fish stocks are showing dead discard estimates that exceed catch (red snapper, black sea bass, gag and black grouper),” read a council meeting summary. “That means the data show that more fish are being released and dying than are able to be kept by fishermen.”
The descending-device requirement is intended to increase chances of survival for released fish by decreasing the effects of barotrauma.
For more information, go to safmc.net.