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Descending Devices


Anglers and scientist working together, side-by-side on sportboats, has been a common theme as science-based research has put anglers, scientists and sportboat crews together to find out more about species like rockfish and the basses.

The most recent endeavor has the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and National Fisheries Service (NOAA), working together with recreational anglers and sportboat crew to do research and spread the word on the importance of descending devices—and that if used properly, rockfish mortality, even with cowcod, can be a thing of the past.

While anglers often look at science with raised eyebrows following the Marine Life Protection Act “process,” recent data collection trips have served as a bridge to realizing that with good science great things can happen.

This week five trips on the Outer Limits out of Seaforth Sportfishing in San Diego are taking anglers out to catch and descend rockfish in the name of science, free of charge. Anglers, supervised by Nick Wagoner of NFS use the five types of descending devices onboard to release their rockfish.

“We are looking for community feedback,” says Wagoner. “We want to know how ‘you’ think they work.”

SAC hopes that by showing the Pacific Management Council that descending devises work, waters deeper than 50 fathoms (300 feet) will once again become available to anglers. The maximum-depth restrictions went from 60 fathoms (360 feet) to the 50 fathoms a few seasons ago.

So far, all research point to descending devices being an amazing tool. Anglers one-by-one are learning this on these unique trips that have NFW pay for the fuel, tackle and bait on the trips that are totally free to anglers.

The goal, says SAC President Ken Franke: “We want to be able to ask the council if we can fish in waters deeper than 50 fathoms, so long as there are descending devices aboard.”

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