Factors affecting catch and release (CAR) mortality in fish: insight into CAR mortality in red snapper and the influence of catastrophic decompression

Rummer, Jodie L. (2007) Factors affecting catch and release (CAR) mortality in fish: insight into CAR mortality in red snapper and the influence of catastrophic decompression. In: Patterson, William F., Cowan, James H., Fitzhugh, Gary R., and Nieland, David L., (eds.) Red Snapper: ecology and fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Symposium (60). American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD, USA, pp. 123-144.

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The red snapper Lutanus campechanus fishery is arguably one of the most important in the Gulf of Mexico, but habitat destruction, climate change, and serial overfishing has resulted in significant population declines in red snapper and other high-profile fisheries species. The red snapper fishery may be one of the best examples where management strategies that promote catch and release (CAR) have failed. Populations have not recovered despite CAR management strategies, likely because CAR mortality is high; however, the basis for CAR mortality is unclear. Numerous studies associated with fishing-induced mortality were reviewed in an attempt to make generalizations as to how red snapper and other high-profile fisheries species respond to CAR. A framework for understanding CAR mortality in red snapper and other species was constructed based on four pillars: retrieval conditions, species and size relationships, handling, and release conditions. Each of these fishing factors was examined as to relative impact toward CAR. A predictive model was generated from all available data on CAR mortality. For a deep-water fish like red snapper, the underlying problem is directly related to capture depth, particularly injuries related to rapid swim bladder (SB) overinflation and catastrophic decompression syndrome (CDS). If not immediately lethal, depth-related injuries may have long term effects on growth and immune function that could go unnoticed and are unaccounted for in traditional field studies; all other fishing factors will only intensify this baseline impairment. Management plans are typically built under the assumption that CAR mortality is below 20%, but it is widely accepted that this is a gross underestimate. Modeling from this review suggests that, in red snapper, mortality may be as low as 20% but only if fish are caught between 0 and 20 m depths. This is not the case, and CAR mortality may reach 100% if fish are retrieved from deeper than 110 m. Current CAR management strategies are ineffective, and not enough information exists to impose maximum fishing depths. Given these limitations, a logical approach would be to restrict particular areas such that fish populations can be protected from all fishing and CAR activity, therefore protecting age, size, and sex classes and ratios. For fish species like red snapper, where overfishing is widespread and CAR mortality is high, or other species where CAR is unclear and a thorough investigation as to depth-related CAR mortality has not been performed, strategies based on space (i.e., marine protected areas and no-take reserves), rather than time or numbers (i.e., season closures, size limits, bag limits, etc.), have the greatest potential for overall conservation and sustainability and should be strongly considered.

Item ID: 45317
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-888569-97-1
Funders: University of British Colombia (UBC), National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2016 04:01
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060603 Animal Physiology Systems @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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