Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Venting Tool Changes in the Gulf Provide New Options for Anglers

Did you know anglers targeting reef fish such as grouper and snapper in the Gulf of Mexico are no longer be
Venting a red grouper
required to use venting tools to treat fish suffering from barotrauma. Barotrauma is the rapid expansion of gases inside a fish’s swim bladder due to changes in pressure when brought to the surface. Venting is the process of releasing these trapped gases by inserting a sharpened, hollow needle into the side of the fish, which has shown to be a useful method for returning fish back to depth. However, while venting can be attributed to increased survival rates for some species, research for many other is either lacking or inconclusive, particularly in deeper waters. In addition, new gear known as fish descending devices can be used to return fish back to depth without the need of venting in many cases. Research from the U.S. Pacific coast has shown that fish descending gear have been highly effective at increasing the survival rates of several species of released rockfish. It is hoped that these devices will have similar results for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. Because of the reasons, the Gulf Council voted to remove the venting requirement. It is important to note, however, that both venting and descending devices are options of last resort and should only be used if fish can’t get back down on their own. Knowing when and how to properly use these devices is key to improving the survival rates of fish that are released.Are you new to fish descending gear?
While fish descending gear is not necessarily new, their use has been more prevalent on the west coast than 

A Seaqualizer Fish Descending
Tool being used to
return a red grouper
suffering from barotrauma
here in the Gulf and South Atlantic. Check out the following videos that show some examples of these devices.

Using the Fish Saver Descending Tool
Using a Utility Crate (aka fish elevator) Fish Descending Tool
Using the Seaqualizer Fish Descending Tool

 To learn more about barotrauma, venting tools, and fish descending gear visit Florida Sea Grant's catch and release website.