Project Page

Reduction of Postrelease Mortality from Barotrauma in Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Recreational Fisheries

Implementing Organization

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)

Funding Program

Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA


Project Category


Project Actions

Species Restoration

Targeted Resources

Fish/Fish Habitats

Project Description

Barotrauma occurs when fish are rapidly brought to the surface from deep water and gases in the fish’s tissues and organs expand and in some cases rupture. When fish suffering from barotrauma are released they can struggle to descend back into the water column to deeper depths, becoming easy prey to predators. Barotrauma can cause other physiological effects such as bulging eyes. Injuries due to barotrauma can result in mortality. This project would reduce mortality from barotrauma and restore reef fish populations by promoting the use of fish descender devices (FDDs) and other tools, targeting reef species such as red snapper, red grouper, vermilion snapper, and gag grouper. This project will focus on the development of best practices for FDDs through the distribution of FDDs to recreational anglers and providing information on their use. Surveys on attitude changes, use, and effectiveness of FDDs will be conducted to track project success. Supplying fishermen with the tools and knowledge to minimize barotrauma-related mortality would result in increased survival of fish released during recreational fishing activities.


Stephen Heverly
(301) 427-8626
Project Website
Project Partners


Affiliated Institutions

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