Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) released the following statement commending the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to pass H.R. 5126, the Direct Enhancement of Snapper Conservation and Economy through Novel Devices Act of 2020 (DESCEND Act), a bipartisan bill that requires recreational and commercial fishermen to possess a descending device that is either rigged and ready to use or a venting tool while reef fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. This bill addresses the use of descending devices to release reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico. A descending device is an instrument that will release fish at a depth sufficient for the fish to be able to recover from the effects of barotrauma. This legislation will curb the discarding of fish that suffer from barotrauma when being reeled in.
“As an avid sportsman and fisherman, I understand the need for improved fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico and commend the House for advancing this legislation. The DESCEND Act will reduce the wasteful disposal of red snapper and other reef fish that experience barotrauma while supporting a healthier fishing economy in our region.”
Specifically, the bill requires:
- Commercial and recreational fishermen to possess a venting tool or descending device that is rigged and ready for use when fishing for reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico Exclusive Economic Zone;
- The Department of Commerce to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study and produce a report on discard mortality in the Gulf reef fish fisheries; and
- Commerce and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to develop guidance for reporting discards and associated mortality and develop a plan to assess the effectiveness and usage of barotrauma-reducing devices.
Palazzo is an original cosponsor of the DESCEND Act of 2020.