Red snapper and other Gulf of Mexico reef fish will be protected under conservation legislation signed into federal law Jan. 13.
The bipartisan Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy Through Novel Devices Act of 2020, also known as the DESCEND Act, requires recreational and commercial anglers to use a venting tool or descending device when releasing fish in federal Gulf waters, the American Sportfishing Association announced in a statement.
Red snapper and other reef fish suffer barotrauma from the rapid change in pressure while being brought to the surface. This condition can be fatal, and leaves fish immobile and unable to escape predators.
“Considering that a significant percentage of recreational fish are caught and released alive, the use of descending gear will increase the number of fish that survive to be caught again at a larger size or later, when in-season,” said Ted Venker, conservation director for the Coastal Conservation Association.
“The future of recreational fishing and America’s blue economy depends on an abundance of fish and the opportunity to catch them. The DESCEND Act supports both of these goals,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy.