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US Secretary of Commerce delivers good news for red snapper fishing

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US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross (left), is welcomed to the Maverick Boat Group by its President, Scott Deal.
↑ US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, is pictured with leaders of the recreational fishing and boating industries during his visit to the Maverick Boat Group yesterday.

Representatives of the recreational fishing and boating industries met with the US Secretary of Commerce and were given good news on fishing for South Atlantic red snapper.

During the meeting at the headquarters of the Maverick Boat Group, in Florida, Secretary Wilbur Ross indicated that his office was finalising the rule requiring descending devices onboard vessels targeting red snapper in the South Atlantic.

During the visit, Secretary Ross also spoke with the group about the challenges facing the marine industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions the Administration could take to promote recreational access and spur economic growth.

“It was wonderful to have Secretary Ross in Florida, the ‘fishing capital of the world’, to see first-hand the importance of the sportfishing and boating industries not only in the state, but nationwide,” said Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the US representative body for the recreational fishing industry.

“We greatly appreciate his focus on actions that can assist us as we move forward, including fisheries management and economic issues.

“He continues to champion increasing outdoor recreation opportunities, an effort that has become even more important as we emerge from these difficult times.”

Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, also welcomed Secretary Ross and praised his commitment to marine conservation and improving public access. “We greatly appreciate Secretary Ross spending time with us to discuss the challenges facing recreational fishing and boating both on and off the water,” he said.

“His visit demonstrates the Administration‘s continued support of growing the outdoor recreation economy and promoting public access to America’s marine resources, especially as our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The recreational fishing and boating industry welcomed the impending legislation regarding the use of descending devices to reduce the mortality rate of prized reef fish, such as snapper and grouper.

A descending device is a weighted hook, lip clamp or box, that will hold the fish while it is lowered to a sufficient depth to recover from the effects of barotrauma.

Anglers have been frustrated in recent years by the ever-decreasing South Atlantic red snapper season as they encounter more and more fish on the water. The one problem has been the rate at which these fish die after they are released to barotrauma, a condition that results from increased pressure of internal gasses as deep-water fish are brought rapidly to the surface.

The NOAA Fisheries counts the high number of estimated dead discards against the harvestable quota each year, resulting in shortened seasons for recreational fishermen.

Angers added: “The science is clear that the use of descending devices improves the survival of fish. Although many anglers are already using these devices, we look forward to Secretary Ross implementing the descending device requirement for all fishermen targeting snapper and grouper in the South Atlantic to better conserve the resource and allow for more opportunity for public access in the future.”

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