Gulf Vent Tool Regulation Removed

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) removed the requirement to have and use a venting tool when fishing for reef fish in Gulf of Mexico state waters at there November 21st meeting. The rule change brings Florida’s fishing regulations back inline with those imposed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council who removed the requirement to have and use a venting tool in Gulf federal waters earlier this year.

The venting tool regulation was put into place in 2008 along with a ban on the use of non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and the requirement to have and use a dehooking devices. The requirement to use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks and to use a dehooking devices are still in place. Only the requirement to have and use a venting tool has been removed. These tools are not required in Atlantic state or federal waters.

Venting Tools
Venting tools are used as a way to increase survival rates of Gulf reef fish. When deep water fish are brought to the surface to quickly they often suffer from a condition called barotrauma. The change in pressure from the deep water to the surface can cause gases within the fish’s swim bladder to expand. This makes it look like the fishes stomach is being pushed out of it’s mouth. Barotrauma and can cause damage to the fishes internal organs and and make it difficult for the fish to return to deeper water.

fish descending device
Fish Descending Device
While venting tools are still a good way to increase the survival rate of reef fish, a new device can also be used to reduce the effects of barotrauma. Fish Descending Devices are a way to quickly return reef fish to deeper water. They can either be purchased or home made. Purchased descending devices consists mostly of a ‘fish holder’ and heavy weight that are attached to a fishing rod. The fish is attached by the mouth to the fish holder, then lowered to the bottom. Once at the desired depth, the rod is given a strong jerk, releasing the fish. Home made versions consist of a weighted crate attached to a rope. The fish are placed in the crate, which is then placed upside down in the water and lowered to the desired depth. When the fish is ready it simply swims out of the crate. Read more about fish descending devices at Fish Descending Devices.

While the use of a venting tool or descending device is no longer required, using them today can help reduce the need for similar or even stricter regulations in the future. Remember, today’s barely short fish is tomorrows keeper!