Rockfish pose a challenge for fishermen who want to catch-and-release. When hooked at depth and pulled to the surface, the gas in their swim bladder expands. This causes their eyes and stomach to bulge out and prevents them from descending again once thrown back. Recreational fishers who catch their limit on rockfish, or accidentally catch a protected species, need a way to help the fish return home.
Scientists at the Pacific FishSmart Barotrauma workshop tested low cost and easy-to-use devices designed by fishermen – which include using a weighted inverted milk crate, barbless weighted hooks or weighted grippers – for their effectiveness on short and long-term survival of rockfish. Their results showed the devices work, but they needed a way to spread the word. CFR West funded Alena Pribyl, John Hyde (NMFS), Milton Love (UC Santa Barbara) and renowned fish artist Ray Troll to produce a short, engaging video on rockfish recompression that has since been viewed more than 32,000 times on YouTube, with the bulk of views coming from angler forums and sportfishing websites.