Industry celebrates ‘great Christmas present for anglers’
The recreational fishing community and the industry that supports it received a pre-Christmas boost this week when the US Senate passed legislation to protect and improve stocks of red snapper.
The DESCEND Act (Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and the Economy through Novel Devices) requires recreational, charter and commercial boats to have venting (or descending) devices on board to reduce fish deaths in Gulf of Mexico federal waters. Red snapper and other reef fish are often returned to the water because they are caught out of season, are under the size limit or over the bag limit. But due to the rapid pressure change that occurs when fish are brought to the surface, many cannot swim back down.
Consequently they die at the surface or fall victim to predators, a situation the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the representative body for the industry, describes as ‘an economic and conservation travesty’. Descending devices will enable fish to return to the depths and will combat wanton waste. The act, which received unanimous approval in the Senate, now goes to President Trump’s desk for signing.
“The Senate’s passage of the DESCEND Act caps off a remarkably productive Congress for the recreational fishing community,” said Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs for the ASA. “The Act will improve fishing opportunities and support Gulf of Mexico reef fish conservation for many years to come.”
The bi-partisan bill, which passed the US House on October 1, was co-authored by senators Bill Cassidy, John Cornyn (both Republican) and Doug Jones (Democrat).
Jeff Angers, President of the Center for Sportfishing, called the passing of the act ‘a great Christmas present for American anglers’.