Increasing Survival Rates of Discarded Red Snapper: Best Release Strategies

Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is one of the most highly sought-after fish in the Gulf of Mexico and also one of the most heavily managed. Considered overfished since the 1980s, anglers have had to endure shortened fishing seasons in an effort to rebuild the stock. Last year, the Red Snapper recreational season was reduced to just nine days in federal waters, with this year’s 2015 season being predicated to be even shorter. Combine this with bag limits of just two fish in addition to strict size requirements, and many captured Red Snapper have to be released or discarded. The impact of these “regulatory discards” to the fishery remains controversial as well as the most effective release strategy (i.e., venting, non-venting, and rapid recompression) at increasing the chances of survival for discarded Red Snapper (Stunz and Curtis 2012).

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