South Carolina Wildlife Federation was recently awarded a federal grant to work with recreational anglers in four states. We will be partnering closely with the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council in its efforts to decrease mortality of snapper and grouper. This project is particularly important for the health of red snapper as regulators are in the early stages of re-opening the red snapper fishery for recreationists.
Mortality is due largely to a condition known as barotrauma (swim bladder expansion with pressure change) that affects hooked deep-water fish as they are reeled in to the surface. Fish released in this condition have a very poor chance or survival. Best practices to reduce such mortality include use of a descending device that allows a controlled return to the bottom and release once the fish equalizes to bottom pressure.
SCWF will focus on education and outreach for recreational anglers through developing and posting an online tutorial; making presentations to anglers and distributing 500 SeaQualizer devices. Our marine biologist, Steve Gilbert, will be coordinating these important efforts.