Return ‘Em Right Impacts

Full Title: Integrating Return ‘Em Right Impacts
The “Return ‘Em Right” program aims to educate fishers about barotrauma, reduce discard mortality, and evaluate program effectiveness, with a focus on promoting the use of fish descending devices (FDD). Given the diverse nature of Gulf of Mexico fishers and the variety of species targeted, the research seeks to integrate data from program activities to tailor outreach materials and address the varied needs and preferences of fishers participating in the program.
Lead Investigator: Dr. Zachary A. Siders, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences – School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatic Sciences
Collaborator: FWC, NOAA, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, Alabama Marine Resources Division, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Award Amount: $10,000
Year Funded: 2023
Award Period: 9/1/2023-8/31/2024
Project Abstract:

Return ‘Em Right is an ambitious program to educate fishers on the signs and impacts of barotrauma, provide tools to reduce barotrauma-induced discard mortality, and assess the program’s effects on fishers and fish. A key component of these activities is communicating to fishers the benefits of adopting and using fish descending devices (FDD) or venting tools to reduce the effects of barotrauma on discarded fish. One impediment is the diversity of fishers in the Gulf of Mexico who engage with the fish resources through multiple sectors (recreational, commercial, for-hire), multiple jurisdictions (state and federal), and are seeking a multitude of experiences (food, fun, escape, etc.). Further complicating this is the 31 species of reef fish fishers are targeting. These facets result in a wide range of ways fishers can generate discards and a spectrum of biological responses to discarding and discarding with FDD; stymying a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating benefits of engaging in the Return ‘Em Right program. The proposed research broadly aims to integrate data collected through Return ‘Em Right activities to better define the potential impacts of adopting fish descending devices to help develop outreach materials for use in the Return ‘Em Right program.

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