Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Recompression Devices: Helping Anglers Fish Smarter

Recompression Devices: Helping Anglers Fish Smarter

NOAA Fisheries Too many fish released by recreational fishermen are dying. NOAA Fisheries, state agencies, recreational fishermen, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council have come together to address this problem. [ music, images of rockfish fishing ] Recompression Devices — Helping Anglers Fish Smarter It’s so important for us to care about the future of our resources. Nobody else is going to do it but the guys out there fishing. The big problem with barotrauma is that these fish are at the surface and if you don’t release them using one of these descending devices, they’re going to die. They’re going to get eaten by a bird or succumb to their injuries and so, nobody wants to see that. Barotrauma is the effects that are caused from bringing a fish up from deep water too fast. Most bottom fish have an air bladder to keep them buoyant and when you bring those fish up from the bottom that air bladder expands and it’ll push his stomach out, his eyes will start bulging and once you release that fish at the surface he has so much gasses built up inside of his abdomen the fish can’t swim back down. About a year ago we were really impacted by a lot of closures out in California for rockfishing. When you catch a certain number of them statewide, the reaction is by the agency is to close the areas to fishing. So a number of private vendors developed devices called descending devices and said, “Hey, this is a cool device. That fish that you guys are so worried about, if you clip it onto this device and send it back down to the bottom, the device will release it free and the fish will be alive and well.” There’s several different types of recompression devices. They’ve all been invented mostly by the recreational fishing community who’s concerned about this issue. And it’s not necessarily that one device is better than the other, but they can be used in different circumstances and there’s a lot of options for fishermen to choose from. So, we’re doing a tagging study offshore that looks at the survival of rockfish released using these recompression devices and our results so far show that 80 to 85 percent of the fish are living and that’s a really big deal. So even if you take a conservative estimate and say that 50 or 75 percent of the fish that you’re releasing are not mortalities, are alive, that really changes the fish counts, the number of fish that are considered to die and that really affects how we manage our fisheries. One of the things that we’re doing and the purpose of today’s trip is to test out the different devices, get the fishermen familiar with these devices and have them tell us how they think they’re working and then share that with their friends. I didn’t know anything about barotrauma before I came out here. I didn’t know what was was being done to get these fish back into the water safely so they can be released safely. I was very excited about that. It was nice to see the fishing guys – the boats working with the scientists to come up with a solution for this problem so that we can all come out here for years to come and fish. The environmental groups brought these devices to us. The NOAA scientists volunteered as well as the Department of Fish and Wildlife in California to come and monitor the studies. The commercial passenger boats are bringing in the recreational fisherman and we’re working with the media to get the message out. It’s kind of like one of those amazing stories that you just never hear. So we’re pretty excited about it. Everybody’s a winner in this project, especially the fish. But the fishermen are happy because they’re not wasting fish, they’re releasing the fish that they don’t want to keep. The fisheries managers are happy because it gives us more options potentially to manage the fishery and environmentalists are happy because fish are not dying. NOAA Fisheries, Copyright and Credits Special Thank You National Fish and Wildlife Foundation World Wildlife Fund California Department of Fish and Wildlife Ken Franke, Pete Gray, Jeffrey Liederman, Steve Lauriano John Hyde and Nick Wegner, Southwest Fisheries Science Center Rockfish Compression Animation, Amadeo Bachar and Cat Wilson, Music, 2014

2 comments on “Recompression Devices: Helping Anglers Fish Smarter

  1. Interesting video. I've struggled with the ethics of fishing deeper than ~100ft. If catching an undersize fish that you have to release…well, I can't imagine that it is very good for them to go through the barotrauma. Venting helps but it still strikes me that these devices should be mandatory

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