A new program announced by the American Sportfishing Association focuses on developing tackle, techniques and management approaches that increase survival of released fish.
The program, named FishSmart Tackle Program, a collaborative effort between the recreational fishing industry, anglers, federal and state fisheries managers and scientists, was announced during ICAST, the industry's annual trade show being held in Orlando, Florida this week.
"One of the keys to successful catch and release efforts is having the right kind of tackle that improves the chance that released fish will live,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. According to Nussman, the number of released saltwater fish exceeds fish 200 million annually.
Some fish are released in response to size-limit regulations and some simply because anglers realize the relative value of fish in the water versus fish in the cooler.
"We know that anglers as a group are very conservation minded," said Nussman.
In concert with the FishSmart Tackle Program, ASA launched a new category for FishSmart tackle in the New Product Showcase "Best of Show" competition held at ICAST. This year top honors went to The SeaQuailizer, a pressure activated, fish recompression tool that is capable of releasing fish at targeted depths. This innovative tool was reviewed in October 2011 by Salt Water Sportsman.
"The SeaQuilizer is just one example of the research and innovation that in taking place in the sportfishing industry to help both conserve our nation's fisheries, while at the same time providing anglers with products they can use to make that happen," said Nussman.