On Saturday, November 10, recreational fishermen, professional fishing guides, fisheries managers and top marine scientists will gather to discuss something very important to each group — how to increase fish survival rates when “catch and release” angling. This first-of-its-kind Best Practices Recreational Fishing Workshop is a joint effort of the Gray’s Reef (GA) National Marine Sanctuary, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sportfishing Conservancy, and will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Richmond Hill City Center in Richmond Hill, Georgia.
This event is open to Georgia anglers and charter boat captains free of charge and includes lunch. Participation by both inshore and offshore fishermen/guides is strongly encouraged, to provide differing perspectives and address issues concerning inshore species, reef fishes and coastal pelagics. Among the notable speakers are Dr. Chris Lowe, a fisheries biologist from California State University, Long Beach; George Sedberry and Gretchen Bath-Martin (both Ph.Ds in Marine Biology); George Geiger, past president of the Florida Coastal Conservation Association and active fishing guide; Michael Denmark, Executive Director of the Georgia Coastal Conservation Association; and Russ Dunn, National Marine Fisheries Services Recreational Coordinator.
The workshop will include expert presentations on relevant issues such as barotrauma and release mortality. “This is a workshop, however, and we’re strongly encouraging anglers and guides to discuss how they fish and share their ideas and methods for increasing fish survival,” said Sportfishing Conservancy President Tom Raftican. “We want this to be an exchange of ideas and information, because we believe that anglers, scientists and fisheries managers can work together to bring about positive change. It’s in everybody’s best interest to increase the survival rate of fish we release,” added Raftican.
Event organizers are confident that this mutual exchange of ideas, techniques and tools can improve recreational anglers’ methods of catching, handling and releasing fish. At the same time, events like this will lead to better understanding among fisheries managers and the scientific community of the real-world challenges anglers face. “Whether due to size regulations, seasonal closures or personal choice, more fish are being released by sport fishermen,” said Raftican. “As recreational anglers, it’s in our best interest — as well as that of the resource — that the highest possible number of these fish survive.”
Future events like these are being planned for 2013 near National Marine Sanctuaries around the country, each designed around regional experts, angler groups and specific fish survival issues. For more information, call the Sportfishing Conservancy at (805) 895-3000 or visit www.sportfishingconservancy.org.
Gray’s Reef, Georgia Best Practices Workshop:
Saturday, November 10
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Richmond Hill City Center