Until recently, regulations in the federal and state waters of the Gulf of Mexico required anglers to vent fish that were unable to swim back to the bottom. As of September 2013, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council eliminated the rule in federal waters.
That rule was eliminated in part due to field trials conducted by Florida Sea Grant to evaluate descending devices in the Gulf. The Gulf Council considered the results so promising that it discontinued the venting rule to give fishermen more options to use a variety of descending techniques and gear best suited to local conditions.
In November, 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission subsequently dropped its requirement to have and use a venting tool when fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters.
Even though the new regulations don't require the use of a venting tool, venting still has its role. For a complete discussion, visit the Descending and Venting page on this site.
State and federal regulations still require commercial and recreational fishermen angling for any species of reef fish in Gulf of Mexico waters to possess and use non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing with live or cut baits and a dehooking device.
The intent of these regulations is to reduce bycatch and discard mortality of reef fish that are caught on hook and line and not kept. If the gear associated with these regulations is used properly, it will help more reef fish survive when they are released.