Return ‘Em Right is launching its program to offshore anglers throughout the Gulf of Mexico today. By participating in a short online review of best practices anglers can receive free release gear valued at $100 to help reef fish survive release.
Each year, more than 10 million federally-managed reef fish are released, and at least one million of those will die after being released. A main reason is due to barotrauma, a pressure-related injury fish experience when reeled up from depth. Anglers may observe barotrauma when they release a fish, only to see it float away on the surface. For every one percent of landed and released fish anglers save through learning and using best release practices, over 100,000 reef fish could survive to grow, possibly spawn, and be caught again.
“I have enjoyed teaching my daughter to fish and know one way to keep the fisheries healthy for her generation is to release them properly. I hope Gulf anglers take advantage of Return ‘Em Right – free gear and training to benefit the fishery is a win-win,” said JD Dugas, recreational angler from Louisiana.
Return ‘Em Right promotes best release practices, with an emphasis on proper use of descending devices, which research shows can improve long-term survival of reef fish by up to three times. Descending devices are weighted devices that help fish overcome buoyancy and injury by releasing them at depth. These devices come in a variety of forms including weighted inverted hooks, lip clamp devices, and weighted crates and boxes.
“I used descending devices for the first time recently and I’ve seen them work firsthand. Not a single fish floated back up the entire day offshore fishing,” said Alexandra Spring, three-time IGFA World Record Holder.
Gulf of Mexico reef fish anglers 18 years and older are now eligible to visit the Return ‘Em Right website, review best release practices, and receive a package of release gear to use out on the water. The educational review is available to all individuals who are interested in learning best practices when encountering barotrauma, regardless of your age, location, or role in the fishery.
“Return ‘Em Right welcomes all anglers to participate in the program and we are excited to be a resource to a community committed to preserving the future of the sport,” said Nick Haddad, Fisheries Communications Manager, Return ‘Em Right.
About Return ‘Em Right
Return ‘Em Right is a program that aims to reduce catch and release mortality from fish suffering from barotrauma in the Gulf of Mexico. The program is led by Florida Sea Grant, University of Florida, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, NOAA and a coalition of anglers, industry groups, state agencies, universities, government and non-government organizations committed to maintaining healthy fish stocks and fishing access in the Gulf of Mexico. The project was selected by the Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Trustee’s as part of a 2019 Restoration Plan.