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Open Access Circle Hook Requirements in the Gulf of Mexico: Application in Recreational Fisheries and Effectiveness for Conservation of Reef Fishes

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In 2008, recreational anglers in the us Gulf of mexico were required to use circle hooks when catching federally managed reef fishes (50 C.F.R. 622.41). From June 2009 through november 2010, we observed recreational hook-and-line fishing during for-hire trips off the west coast of florida. Anglers used circle hooks and other hook types in a wide range of sizes from a variety of manufacturers. The present study evaluated the effectiveness of circle hooks toward reducing potentially lethal hooking injuries and the number of undersized reef fishes caught in the florida recreational fishery. For seven out of 10 species evaluated, there were significant reductions in potentially lethal injuries for fish caught with circle hooks compared to all other hook types. Overall, reductions ranged from 30% to 93%. Potentially lethal injuries for red snapper [Lutjanus campechanus (poey, 1860)] were reduced to 6.3% with circle hooks (from 17.1% with other hook types), which was a 63.5% reduction. For gag [Mycteroperca microlepis (Goode and Bean, 1879)] and scamp (Mycteroperca phenax Jordan and swain, 1884) potentially lethal injuries were <5.5% for both circle hooks and other hook types and differences were not significant. There was no clear evidence that circle hooks reduced bycatch of undersized fishes when compared to J-hooks. There was an increase in mean fish length with increasing circle hook size for multiple species; however, r 2 values were low and much of the explained variance was unrelated to circle hook size.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2012

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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