Return ‘Em Right Best Release Practices Manual For Recreational Anglers Now Available

Gainesville, FL – The Return ‘Em Right Best Release Practices Manual, developed in collaboration with private anglers, captains, scientists and fisheries managers, will help anglers improve the survival of reef fish that are caught and released.

Each year, millions of reef fish are caught and released, and many die from the impacts of barotrauma. Barotrauma is a pressure-related injury fish experience when reeled up from depth. These dead discards negatively impact the health of the fisheries. Anglers have the ability to reduce mortality of released fish by learning and using best practices to support the fishery, the objective of the Return ‘Em Right program.

“Research shows using best release practices can dramatically increase the survival of reef fish. This manual is yet another tool anglers can add to their tacklebox,” said Dr. Marcus Drymon, Marine Fisheries Specialist, Mississippi State University, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

In December of 2021, key experts from the recreational fishing community identified the best strategies to reduce mortality of released reef fish at a two-day workshop. The manual, a product of this workshop, guides recreational anglers through choices they make during a fishing trip to maximize the chances of fish surviving release.

“The decisions we make on the water can significantly impact the current and future status of our fisheries. There is no single best practice that can be used in every situation, so this manual serves as a guide to help anglers make informed decisions that lead to the greatest chance of survival for each fish they catch and release.” said Captain Dylan Hubbard, owner and operator of Hubbard’s Marina, Madeira Beach, Florida.

Return ‘Em Right is an angler-driven program that provides training and free release gear to Gulf of Mexico reef fish anglers who are committed to using best release practices and helping the future of the fishery. To date the program has reached nearly 30,000 offshore anglers. The Best Release Practices Manual, and accompanying fact sheets summarizing pertinent information on catch and release, can be found here.

About Return ‘Em Right 

Return ’Em Right was selected as a restoration project by the Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group as part of a 2019 Restoration Plan. The programs mission is to improve reef fish survival by equipping anglers with the knowledge and gear to confidently and successfully release reef fish

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