Workshop Offers Recommendations for Releasing Deepwater Fish

Recommendations from the latest FishSmart workshop on how best to release deepwater fish echo those reached by previous workshops.

Pacific rockfish shows barotrauma

Pacific rockfish shows barotrauma

A yelloweye rockfish with stomach protruding, pushed out by expanded gasses in the swim bladder, is sentenced to death if simply put back over the side in this condition.Oregon State University

Once again, concerned scientists, fisheries managers and others have recommended using weighted devices to release deepwater fish “inflated” at the surface back to the depths with the least possible mortality.

Another regional FishSmart workshop, this one in Oregon, wrapped up earlier this month. Fifty individuals, including anglers and those in the sport-fishing industry as well as scientists, concluded that the very best option is avoiding catching deepwater fish, since mortality is always involved in releasing such fish.

However, when fish do need to be released, the workshop's official recommendations says: "Venting (releasing swim bladder gasses from the fish's body to enable it to return to deeper waters on its own) should generally be a last option." Previous workshops have reached similar conclusions.

Anglers fishing the Gulf of Mexico are required to carry and use (only) venting devices to release deepwater fish.

Read the FishSmart recommendations in full here. Final FishSmart workshops in the series will be held in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast later this year.