Red Snapper Barotrauma

About this project

An iconic Gulf species, Red Snapper suffer many pressure-related injuries (known as barotrauma) during fishing that may not allow them to survive catch-and-release. A species that supports highly lucrative commercial and recreational fisheries, Red Snapper are a vital commodity for coastal communities across the Gulf making sustainable management of this species of paramount importance.

Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) researchers are studying how season, depth, and other factors influence the severity of barotrauma injuries, and are determining the best release methods to maximize survival of these discarded fish and enhance Red Snapper populations. Research includes examining how certain tools may increase the survival of released snapper; estimating the rate of death in discarded fish; monitoring the post-release behavior of Red Snapper tagged with acoustic transmitters; and using hyperbaric chambers, which can control pressure, to simulate the effects of catch-and-release on these fish and how depth may impact their survival. We are also working directly with stakeholders to assess depredation of fish released on descender devices and determine what species are responsible for the depredation observed.

Research Objectives

  • Determining best release methods for improving survival in the recreational Red Snapper fishery
  • Researching how rapid recompression and descender tools can increase the survival of released Red Snapper
  • Estimating discard mortality and monitoring post-release behavior in Red Snapper using acoustic transmitters
  • Using hyperbaric chambers to simulate multiple recapture events and the effects of depth on survival
  • Documenting depredation rates on descending fishes and identify species responsible for that depredation