NOAA Fisheries Announces Gear Modifications for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 29 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 29).  This final rule modifies gear requirements for the fishery and encourages best fishing practices.

WHEN RULE WILL TAKE EFFECT:

Regulations will be effective July 15, 2020.

SUMMARY OF CHANGES FOR SNAPPER-GROUPER:

The final rule:

  • Requires descending devices be on board and readily available for use on commercial, for-hire, and private recreational vessels while fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;
  • Requires the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude;
  • Requires all hooks be non-stainless steel when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude; and
  • Allows the use of powerheads in federal waters off South Carolina.
2021 Gulf Red Snapper Season

Private recreational anglers (Gulf state and federal waters): June 1 at 12:01 AM, closing August 3

Federal for-hire operations (Gulf federal waters) : June 1 at 12:01 AM,  closing on August 3

State Reef Fish Survey

Starting July 1, 2020, the State Reef Fish Survey will replace the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. All anglers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation. 

SeaQualizer red snapper release

U.S. House Passes Descending Device Bill to Conserve Gulf Reef Fish

Washington, D.C. – October 1, 2020 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed without objection H.R. 5126, Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2020 (DESCEND Act). The bill requires recreational (including charter boats) and commercial fishermen to have on board a venting tool or descending device that is rigged and ready for use while fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The recreational fishing and boating community strongly supports the DESCEND Act, led by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.), to combat wanton waste of Gulf of Mexico reef fish.

SeaQualizer Descending Device

With the SeaQualizer anglers can release fish at a variety of depths with confidence. Its pressure activated trigger practically eliminates the risk of premature release.

Watch and Learn

SeaYaLater Release Hook

 Thanks to our patent pending, slide swivel technology a fish will not fall off the release hook before it should. Anglers now have the ability to successfully release fish using the release hook method in a wide range of fishing conditions.

Watch and Learn

SeaYaLater release hook

CHOOSING A DEPTH SETTING

Release depth is determined by the depth of capture. We recommend setting your SeaQualizer to release as close to the bottom as possible. 

Watch the video above for detailed instructions on how to change the depth setting of your SeaQualizer Descending Device.

CHOOSING LEAD WEIGHT

The weight required to overcome the bouyancy of a fish is determined by the size of the fish. Use 1-2 lb of weight for every 10 lbs of fish.

    • 10 lb fish – 2 lb weight
    • 20 lb fish – 4 lb weight
    • 30 lb fish – 5 lb weight

FAQ:

What is a descending device?

A descending device is a tool anglers use to reverse the effect of barotrauma on fish by releasing them at depth.

What is barotrauma?

Barotrauma is a condition bottom-dwelling fish suffer from after surfacing rapidly and is common in grouper and snapper species when caught on hook and line. The air inside their swim bladder over-expands and impedes a fishes ability to swim back down to depth if its released back into the wild. 

What is a SeaQualizer?

A SeaQualizer is a descending device that’s triggered by a change in pressure. Unlike other descending devices, the SeaQualizer latches onto the fish’s lip ensuring that it doesn’t release prematurely. 

How do I rig a SeaQualizer?

There are many ways to rig a SeaQualizer but the most common is with a 3-way swivel and stick lead. A short rod makes recovering your descending device fast and easy. Watch the video at the top of the page for more information on rigging. 

Some anglers use a down-rigger to release fish. This is probably the fastest and easiest method but many anglers don’t have this luxury. 

In any case, a fish suffering from barotrauma has the best chance of survival if it is sent back to the depth of capture as quickly as possible. 

Is a SeaQualizer mandatory?

No, the SeaQualizer is not mandatory. Descending devices, however, are required on board and readily available while fishing for or possessing Grouper-Snapper species in the South Atlantic effective July 15th, 2020. Learn more

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