The information  below is provided by:

Florida Fish and Wildlife  Conservation Commission

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New Reef Fish Gear Rules

Gag GrouperNew rules for state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will require all commercial fishers and recreational anglers fishing for any Gulf reef fish species to use circle hooks, dehooking devices and venting tools. These new rules will become effective on June 1, 2008 in all waters of the Gulf of Mexico and affect all reef fish species including groupers, snappers, amberjacks, triggerfish, porgies, sea bass, hogfish, and tilefish.

The intent of these new rules is to help conserve fishery resources by minimizing mortality associated with releasing fish that are not going to be harvested due to regulations or for other reasons. Fishers and anglers are being asked to be responsible to acquire and use the required gear when fishing for reef fish species. FWC Law Enforcement Officers will be taking an educational approach toward enforcement before and after the implementation of the new rules.

Everted StomachAdditionally, common sense should be used in abiding by these rules.  For instance, if a hook is too far embedded in the throat or gut of the fish, it is much better to cut the line from the hook rather than try to remove the hook with a dehooking device.  The non-stainless steel hooks will disintegrate in a relatively short period of time and should cause the fish less harm.  Also, fish should only be vented after one or all of the following characteristics are noticed on a fish: the stomach protrudes from the mouth, the eyes are bulging, the belly region is swollen, or the intestines are sticking out of the anus.

Circle Hooks

Circle HooksThe new rules require fishers on all vessels fishing for reef fish in the Gulf to possess and use non-stainless steel circle hooks when natural baits are used. A circle hook is a fishing hook designed and manufactured so that the point is not offset, but turned perpendicularly back to the shank to form a generally circular or oval shape.

Dehooking Devices

The new rules require fishers on all vessels fishing for reef fish in the Gulf to possess and use a dehooking device to remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimal damage. The dehookingDehooking Devices device must be constructed to allow the hook to be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal process. It must be blunt and all edges rounded, and it must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes and styles used in the Gulf reef fish fishery.


Reef Rulses: Venting Tools have been eliminated as of January 2014



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