University of Florida

New! Catch & Release: Ways You Can Help Saltwater Fish Survive!

catch and release brochure cover thumbnailThis latest edition of the popular brochure includes all-new section on descending tools, venting, and other deep-water release techniques for reef fish. Download new brochure


Recorded Webinar:
Get That Fish Back Down!

If you're a deep-sea fisherman, you're all too familiar with the problems of releasing fish – either undersized or out of season – caught in deep water. Fish often appear bloated and cannot swim back down to safe depth, resulting in almost certain mortality.

View Recorded Webinar given Sept.11, 2013

The webinar lasts 58 minutes and covers:

  • Barotrauma: its causes, symptoms, and research updates
  • Tools and tips for deep-water release, including the latest on fish descending gear
  • Recent changes to the Gulf of Mexico venting rule and how it will affect your fishing in state and federal waters

Help us help you! We would greatly appreciate if you can also complete a short evaluation (1 min) after you watch the presentation. Your feedback will help us plan for future outreach opportunities.

Follow this link ( to complete the evaluation. Thank you!

Evaluating Fish Descending Tools

Florida Sea Grant extension agents are getting offshore anglers involved in the process of evaluating descending devices in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters, to see if there are practical options that may help fishermen improve the survival of deep-water fish they release.

There have been promising results from scientific studies conducted on the U.S. West Coast that show survival of deep-water released fish can be improved if they are quickly returned to capture depth.

IMPORTANT: Fish descending is an option of last resort, used only when a deep-water fish cannot get back down on its own. Descending fish requires increased handling and time out of water, which are harmful to the fish.

We post these videos from authorized research trials that Florida Sea Grant has conducted in the Gulf of Mexico to show what happens, from an underwater point of view, when fish are rapidly descended. These are only preliminary results. Much more long-term and comprehensive research needs to be conducted.

The View From Below

Grouper Descended with a Modified Crate (1:41)

Watch on Florida Sea Grant's YouTube Channel ...

Grouper Descended with a Seaqualizer (:47)

Watch on Florida Sea Grant's YouTube Channel ...

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Bloated Rockfish is Recompressed, Swims Away

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife makes available this short video that shows the recovery of a recreationally caught rockfish affected by the symptoms of barotrauma, the bloat that fish caught in deep water experience when brought to sea level. Click on the image to watch. (Windows Media Player required.)

Video of rockfish being recompressed

Learn More About Descending and Venting

At this time, we must stress that Florida Sea Grant's descending trials are experimental, and more research will be needed. The hope is that eventually, fishery managers will be able to provide anglers with options on how best to get fish back down to the bottom to maximize their chances for survival. Improved survival will result in more sustainable fisheries that result in less restrictive regulations. More...

IMPORTANT: In the Gulf of Mexico, venting of fish that require assistance to return to the bottom is the only method allowed. Currently (April 2013), the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is considering changing this regulation. Use of all types of venting or descending devices is currently permissible in the Atlantic.

NEW FACT SHEET -- What are Fish Descending Devices?

SLIDESHOW -- What are Fish Descending Devices?

Read More from Florida Sea Grant About Descending and Venting

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Catch & Release:
Ways You can Help Saltwater Fish Survive

This brochure from Florida Sea Grant and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers tips and techniques saltwater fishermen can use to increase the survival of fish they release. [420KB pdf].

Florida Sea Grant

Visit our Web site for more information on our research and outreach investment in sustainable fisheries.

NEW!! Descending Videos
Related Video
Related Publications

By adopting just a few simple habits, recreational anglers can greatly increase the chances that the fish they catch and release will survive. Practicing catch and release helps anglers to preserve marine fisheries while enjoying their outdoor fishing experiences.