State/National/WorldNews Briefs

Bill to support conservation of reef fish in Gulf of Mexico signed into law

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A bipartisan bill which aims to protect red snapper and other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico from the fatal effects of barotrauma has been signed into law. The Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2020 (DESCEND Act) was signed into law on Jan. 13. The bipartisan law requires recreational, for-hire and commercial anglers to have a venting tool or descending device rigged and ready on board their vessels while pursuing reef fish in the Gulf.

“The signing of the DESCEND Act is a culmination of a multi-year effort by the recreational fishing community and our champions in Congress to further demonstrate our commitment to marine resource conservation.” said Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association Mike Leonard in a Jan. 25 from the American Sportfishing Association.

Red snapper and other reef fish are often returned to the water for a variety of reasons. Due to the rapid change in pressure from being brought to the surface from depth, many of these fish experience barotrauma – a condition where a buildup of gas pressure in their bodies makes it difficult or impossible to swim back down. Consequently, countless fish returned to the water can die at the surface or fall victim to opportunistic predators. 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. A venting tool is a sharpened, hollow device capable of penetrating the abdomen of a fish to release the excess gas pressure in the body cavity when a fish is retrieved from depth.

 “Reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico are economically and culturally important to the region, and we are thrilled that the DESCEND Act has been signed into law to tackle wanton waste of these prized fish.” said Center for Sportfishing Policy President Jeff Angers the statement.

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