Soon anglers will no longer be required to carry and use a venting tool when fishing for reef and bottom fish in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) removed the requirement in Gulf state waters during its Nov. 21 meeting, making state regulations consistent with rules in federal waters. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council removed the venting tool requirement in Gulf federal waters earlier this year.
Anglers now must determine how to best maximize survival of released reef fish using devices they feel are appropriate for the circumstances.
Venting tools are used to treat barotrauma by allowing gases to escape from a fish’s body cavity.
Barotrauma occurs when fish are brought quickly to the surface from deep water. The change in pressure causes the fish’s swim bladder to expand. Venting the bladder with a hollow needle allows the fish to return easily to depth without struggle. Alternatives to the venting needle include descending devices, which carry the fish back down to deeper water.
Venting tools were required in Gulf state and federal waters since 2008, in order to increase survival rates of released red snapper, but applied to all species of Gulf reef fish. The tools are not required in Atlantic state or federal waters.
Another FWC notice will be released announcing a start-date. Amanda Nalley, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson, says they hope to have this in effect at the start of the new year.