NOAA Fisheries recently announced new gear requirements for commercial, for-hire, and recreational fishermen fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic.
Upcoming Regulations in Federal Waters of the South Atlantic
Beginning July 15, 2020, the following regulations go into effect:
Descending Device Requirements:
- Require descending devices be on board and readily available for use on commercial, for-hire, and private recreational vessels while fishing for or possessing snapper-grouper species;
- What’s a descending device:
- Descending device means an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet.
- The descending device attaches to the fish’s mouth or is a container that will hold the fish. The device MUST be capable of releasing the fish automatically, by the actions of the operator of the device, or by allowing the fish to escape on its own.
- Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.
- Circle Hook Requirements
- Currently, non-stainless steel circle hooks are required to be used when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude, which is a line running east to west approximately 25 miles south of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- This rule requires the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits north of 28º north latitude. Non-offset circle hooks can reduce the occurrence of hooking-related mortality (when compared to offset circle hooks and J-hooks) and can improve survivorship of released fish.
- This rule also requires the use of non-stainless steel hooks when fishing for snapper-grouper species with hook-and-line gear and natural baits south of 28º north latitude. All hooks, regardless of type, need to be constructed of non-stainless steel. Non-stainless steel hooks degrade faster than stainless steel hooks, so fish that are released with an embedded hook would likely have a greater chance of survival through their use.
*In addition, powerheads will now be allowed in federal waters off the coast of South Carolina.