Amendment 29 requires descending devices onboard and ready in South Atlantic federal waters to ensure more snapper grouper species survive
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep Florida Fishing® (KFF), an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association, commend The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) for approving Amendment 29 during their September 16-20, 2019 Council Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The SAFMC reviewed best fishing practices for snapper grouper species in Amendment 29, which requires descending devices, which allow anglers to release fish at or near the depth at which they were hooked, be onboard and ready for use. Once approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the amendment is expected to take effect in late 2020.
ASA, KFF, scientists, the general public and SAFMC members have long been concerned about the mortality rate of discarded snapper grouper species suffering from barotrauma, especially since access has been lost due to dead discard estimates that exceed the allowable amount of fish that can be caught. Descending devices have been shown to be very effective in reducing discard mortality by releasing the fish at a depth that will alleviate barotrauma symptoms. Regulatory Amendment 29 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan will increase the survival of released fish by requiring descending devices be onboard vessels and ready for use while fishing in federal waters of the South Atlantic. This new requirement is not only good conservation of our natural resources but has the potential to increase allowable harvest.
“The American Sportfishing Association and Keep Florida Fishing are thrilled that the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 29. Being good stewards of our fisheries is critical to ensure that Florida continues to be the ‘Fishing Capital of the World.’ The use of descending devices will help us achieve that goal by responsible management of our snapper grouper stocks not only in Florida but throughout the South Atlantic region,’ said Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.
Reducing the mortality rate of snapper grouper species by requiring descending devices in federal waters is simply a best fishing practice. For additional information go to www.FishSmart.org or to the SAFMC website to view their Best Fishing Practices Tutorial.