Return ‘Em Right Best Release Practices Manual Now Available

Return ’Em Right, an organization dedicated improving reef fish survival, has published a guide to safe releases of deep water species for recreational anglers.
Courtesy Return ‘Em Right

Return ’Em Right was launched in May of 2022 with the aim of “improving reef fish survival by equipping anglers with the knowledge and gear to confidently and successfully release reef fish.” Since that time, they have provided anglers in the Gulf States and beyond with a number of educational resources and release aids that have ensured countless fish have been safely returned so that they may be caught and released again. To date the program has reached nearly 30,000 offshore anglers.

Now, Return ’Em Right is providing anglers with a handy guide with the publication of the Return ‘Em Right Best Release Practices Manual. This guide was developed in collaboration with private anglers, captains, scientists and fisheries managers, to help anglers improve the survival of reef fish that are caught and released.

“Research shows using best release practices can dramatically increase the survival of reef fish. This manual is yet another tool anglers can add to their tacklebox,” said Dr. Marcus Drymon, marine fisheries specialist, Mississippi State University, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

In case you weren’t familiar, many reef fish die from the from the impacts of barotrauma, a pressure-related injury fish experience when reeled up from depth. Though these fish don’t end up on a filet table, these dead discards still negatively impact the health of the fisheries. By learning and using best practices, anglers can significantly reduce the mortality of released fish and improve the overall health of the fishery. The Return ‘Em Right program has worked to provide solutions that help anglers ensure the safety of released fish.

Courtesy Return ‘Em Right

In December of 2021, key experts from the recreational fishing community identified the best strategies to reduce mortality of released reef fish at a two-day workshop. The Return ‘Em Right Best Release Practices Manual, a product of this workshop, guides recreational anglers through choices they make during a fishing trip to maximize the chances of fish surviving release. The Best Release Practices Manual, and accompanying fact sheets summarizing pertinent information on catch and release, can be found here.

“The decisions we make on the water can significantly impact the current and future status of our fisheries. There is no single best practice that can be used in every situation, so this manual serves as a guide to help anglers make informed decisions that lead to the greatest chance of survival for each fish they catch and release.” said Captain Dylan Hubbard, owner and operator, Hubbard’s Marina, Madeira Beach, Florida.

You can help Return ‘Em Right, and your fellow anglers, ensure the future of reef fisheries by following the guideline laid out in the Best Release Practices Manual. Visit their website for the latest info, training, and even free release aids.

reef fish release aids
Return ‘Em Right provides anglers with the education and tools they need to release fish safely. Courtesy Return ‘Em Right