Gear induced discard mortality and survival is a key concern in fisheries because population models used in stock assessment are very sensitive to this parameter, and estimates of discard mortality are highly uncertain. In recreational fisheries, simple devices clipped to a drop line that quickly and safely return individual fish to capture depth have provided one tool that can help improve discard mortality. However, a critical barrier to broad adoption in recreational fisheries is that available systems do not return meaningful numbers of fish to capture depth quickly, making their use difficult in many typical fisheries operations. We are developing, building and testing a system that addresses these barriers through a partnership between engineers, recreational fishermen, University of New Hampshire (UNH) scientists and extension/outreach specialists. A prototype of such a system has been produced by our team through a small development grant from New Hampshire Sea Grant. This project is underway with testing continuing through the spring and summer of 2016.
More about the barotrauma release system