Reduce Mortality Of Released Bycatch
As responsible anglers, we want to do everything we can to return bycatch safely. Anyone who’s fished bottoms deeper than 30 feet has probably experienced the “floating fish syndrome.” This is caused by barotrauma, an expansion of the fish’s air bladder as they are brought up from depth.
Signs of barotrauma include eyes popping, stomach extending out of the mouth, intestines extending out of the anus and bloating. These fish will not be able to descend upon release and are subject to predation.
Thanks to a NOAA grant, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation has partnered with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to develop an interactive online tutorial detailing fish-handling and release techniques that give fish the best chance of survival. In 2018, anglers fishing waters of the Atlantic from North Carolina to Florida released more than 2 million red snapper. Even a 5 percent increase in survivorship would save 100,000 red snapper a year. All those surviving fish would remain in the stock.
The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council includes bycatch mortality as part of their population estimates that determine seasons and catch limits. Best fishing practices detailed in the tutorial are a great way of reducing mortality, which means there will be more fish in the water for future fishing opportunities.
Take the online tutorial and enhance your future fishing opportunities at: https://safmc.net/bestpracticestutorial/story_html5.html. Complete the tutorial (about 20 minutes) and sign the pledge to be eligible for a free SeaQualizer descending device if you fish the South Atlantic.