July 14, 2020 — The following was released by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council:
Fishermen heading offshore this Friday to take advantage of the last day of the recreational Red Snapper opening in the South Atlantic are reminded that new regulations requiring descending devices be on board and changes to hook requirements become effective July 15, 2020 in federal waters. Descending Device Requirements The new requirements are designed to help improve the chances that released fish survive by encouraging the use of descending devices when needed and modifying current hook requirements. Beginning July 15th, a descending device must be on board and readily available for use (attached to a minimum of 60-feet of line with at least 16 ounces of weight) when targeting snapper grouper species. The descending device can help reduce the effects of barotrauma, a condition that occurs when a fish is rapidly reeled up from depth. Signs include protrusion of the stomach from the fish’s mouth, bulging eyes, prolapse, and bubbling scales. A descending device can quickly be used to send the fish back to depth, improving its chances of survival. Hook Modifications Changes to hook requirements are also being implemented. Fishermen targeting snapper grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28 degrees N. latitude (approximately 25 miles south of Cape Canaveral, Florida) must use non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks. The new regulations also require that all hooks must be non-stainless steel when targeting snapper grouper species in federal waters in the South Atlantic. Recreational, Commercial and For-Hire Fishermen Note that the new requirements apply to recreational fishermen as well as federally-permitted for-hire (charter) and commercial snapper grouper vessels fishing in federal waters (greater than 3 nautical miles) off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and the east coast of Florida. Learn More Additional details on the new requirements as well as information on proper handling techniques, how to identify barotrauma, and how-to videos demonstrating the effectiveness of descending devices are available from the Council’s new Best Fishing Practices webpage at: https://safmc.net/best-fishing-practices/. Questions? Contact Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer at Kim.Iverson@safmc.net or Cameron Rhodes, Outreach Program Coordinator at Cameron.Rhodes@safmc.net or contact the Council Office at 843/571-4366.