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The project includes distributing fish descender devices to recreational anglers and teaching best practices on their use.

NOAA and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Partner to Restore Recreational Fish

August 10, 2020

NOAA’s awarding $870,592 to support a project working with recreational anglers aimed at restoring reef fish species impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

NOAA announced a new partnership with the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission to restore recreational fish species impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This award will focus on the development of best practices for fish descender devices (FDDs) by distributing FDDs to recreational anglers and providing information on their use. Surveys on attitude changes, use, and effectiveness of FDDs will be conducted to track project success.

The first award of this new five-year agreement is $870,592. It will fund the Commission’s work with recreational, private, and for-hire anglers as part of a project to help restore reef fish by improving their chances of surviving after being caught and released.

Fish that survive being caught and carefully released have an increased chance to live to be caught again, reproduce, and add to the health and future of the fishery. But often, fish suffer from barotrauma, which is the build up of gases in fish’ bodies when brought up to the water's surface, that then makes it difficult for them to swim back down to their habitat after release. Fish that can’t swim back down can become easy prey for predators. Those that are able to, can have long-term negative health effects.

To combat barotrauma, NOAA and project partners will promote the use of fish descender devices (FDDs) and other tools, targeting various reef fish species like snapper and grouper. Descender devices are used to assist fish back down to their habitat.

The project was approved by the four federal Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Trustees in a December 2019 restoration plan. That NOAA-led plan included 18 projects totaling almost $226 million to help restore fish, sea turtles, marine mammals and deep-sea coral habitat injured by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn more about the partnership and how barotrauma affects fish at NOAA Fisheries >>