Please select your home edition
Get My Boat 2021 LEADERBOARD

Recreational fishing community lead effort to promote conservation through use of descending devices

by American Sportfishing Association 7 Jul 09:07 PDT

The 2,600 anglers who recently participated in the American Sportfishing Association's (ASA) FishSmart South Atlantic Red Snapper and Red Drum Conservation Effort programs reported taking action to increase fish survival rates through the use of descending devices for red snapper, and short leader circle hook rigs for red drum. Apart from the measurable results, participants helped to focus attention on the viability of descending devices as a tool for fisheries management.

The three-year program, made possible by ASA's conservation funding arm the FishAmerica Foundation, centered on education and descending device use among anglers fishing for red snapper and other reef fish in the South Atlantic. Designed to release discarded fish at or near the depth at which they were hooked, these devices reduce discard mortality thereby improving fish survival and future fishing opportunities. The FishSmart project provided an opportunity for researchers to determine the true capability of anglers to adopt the use of descending devices.

Over the years, programs like FishSmart have helped advance research into the effectiveness of tools such as descending devices and raised awareness among anglers about the importance of improving fish survival. This has also helped put conservation tools such as descending devices in front of Congress. The DESCEND Act, enacted in January 2021, requires recreational (including charter boats) and commercial anglers to have on board a venting tool or descending device that is rigged and ready for use while fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters.

A similar regulation exists in the South Atlantic region. Commercial, for-hire and private recreational vessels are required to have a descending device on board and readily available for use while fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species. The 2021 South Atlantic red snapper season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 9, 2021, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 12, 2021.

"Every recreational angler plays a role in the conservation and sustainability of our fisheries. When anglers experience first-hand how descending devices improve survival of fish caught from deep waters, they quickly realize the necessity of these important tools," said Spud Woodward, member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and supporter of that council's action requiring descending devices be on board and readily available for use. "A big part of fishing is the anticipation of the next catch. The more fish released alive, the greater the opportunity for those future catches. It's exciting to see the positive survey results from ASA's three-year project, and it's our hope the participants will continue to share their experiences with other anglers leading to more fish being released alive in a healthy condition."

Survey results for the red snapper/reef fish component show that two-thirds of anglers had little knowledge of descending devices prior to enrolling in the programs. Nearly 75 percent of the anglers surveyed believe that descending devices will help reduce discard mortality and planned to use it when needed on the fish that they released in the future. ASA also published descending device Best Practices information the anglers found helpful as they learned a new way to release fish.

Anglers fishing for red drum also received Best Practices information as well as short leader, circle hook rigs, which are demonstrated to reduce deep hooking and improve the chances of survival of released adult red drum. Sixty-one percent of the anglers surveyed believe that the short leader circle hook rigs reduced the incidence of deep hooking, indicating acceptance of their use.

"The FishSmart survey results, and those of an earlier effort in the Gulf of Mexico, reaffirm that anglers are a tremendous force for conservation when provided with information and tools proven to improve the survival of released fish," remarked Mike Leonard, ASA's vice president of Government Affairs. "We're encouraged by the strong support behind descending devices, which reinforces the importance of their use, and we ask that fishery managers to take this support into account as they develop fishing regulations."

Yamaha Rightwaters, Yamaha Marine's conservation and sustainability initiative, played a key role in FishSmart funding.

"The primary goal of Yamaha Rightwaters is to preserve and sustain water and aquatic environments, which includes promoting programs and initiatives that create healthy fisheries," remarked Martin Peters, Division manager, Yamaha Marine Government Relations. "Anglers catch-and-release red snapper and red drum throughout the year and it's important that they use release techniques and equipment that are proven to improve survival of the fish. Most anglers share Yamaha Rightwaters' vision for sustainable fisheries. These results prove that they will take action to this end when provided with the right information and tools."

More project details and findings can be found on this fact sheet.

Agency and organization partners participating in the FishSmart South Atlantic effort include: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, North Carolina Department Environment & Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy/Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

In addition to ASA, major funding partners for this effort were Yamaha Marine and NOAA Fisheries. Additional programmatic and communication support was provided by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, SeaQualizer LLC, Shelton Fish Descenders and Shimano North American Fishing.

Related Articles

U.S. House to facilitate artificial reef creation
Navy would be encouraged to explore opportunities to convert retired vessels into reefs Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure that will provide opportunities for retired Navy ships to be considered for artificial reefs. Posted on 25 Sep
Drift Gillnet Modernization Legislation approved
Sportfishing industry resumes work to phase out destructive gear in California Yesterday, the U.S. Senate approved by unanimous consent the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, which aims to align state and federal policy to support the modernization of California's swordfish fishery. Posted on 16 Sep
Recreational fishing industry's online auction
Featuring “Best of Category” winners from the ICAST 2021 New Product Showcase in support Keep America Fishing is the association's grassroots advocacy program that gives our nation's 55 million anglers a way to let their voices be heard when fisheries policy and management decisions will impact recreational fishing. Posted on 9 Sep
Bipartisan Bill for outdoor recreation economy
Fisheries conservation, access and jobs will benefit from substantial federal investments After weeks of intense negotiations, a bipartisan group of U. S. Senators recently announced agreement with the White House on a "traditional" infrastructure package. Posted on 3 Aug
Reauthorizing nation's primary fishing law
The recreational fishing community commends Reps. Huffman and Case for their thorough approach Yesterday, Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Ed Case (D-Hawaii) introduced the Sustaining America's Fisheries for the Future Act to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), America's primary law governing marine fisheries. Posted on 29 Jul
ASA announces Board of Directors for 2022
Industry leaders bring a wide-range of talent and experience Four members of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) were elected or re-elected to fill two At-Large seats and two regional seats on the board of directors. Their three-year terms begin October 1, 2021. Posted on 2 Jul
Recreational fishing industry reconnects at ICAST
ICAST is the world's largest venue for launching new fishing products and setting industry trends With Orlando, Fla. as the backdrop, the 64th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, will be in-person and onsite this July 20 - 23, in the North Building of the Orange County Convention Center. Posted on 29 Jun
Senate Commerce Committee approves important bills
Sportfishing industry priorities advance as infrastructure debate continues The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held an executive session that included consideration and passage of several bills supported by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). Posted on 17 Jun
ASA appoints new Inland Fisheries Policy Manager
Connor Bevan has joined ASA's Government Affairs staff The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is pleased to announce that Connor Bevan has joined ASA's Government Affairs staff as the new Inland Fisheries Policy Manger. Posted on 27 May
RS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 2Maritimo 2021 - M60 - FOOTER