I was approached by a local well-respected charter captain who asked me to reach out to the recreational fishermen to inform them that there will be a concerted push to enforce the dehooking device requirement this fishing season. Apparently these rules have been in effect for almost 5 years now but they WILL
be enforcing them with hefty fines this year. This applies to private recs - I think most people are aware of the non-stainless circle hook rule but apparently not many people are aware of the dehooking device requirement.https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2013-title50-vol12/xml/CFR-2013-title50-vol12-sec622-30.xml
Required fishing gear.
For a person on board a vessel to fish for Gulf reef fish in the
Gulf EEZ, the vessel must possess on board and such person must use the
gear as specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.
(a) Non-stainless steel circle hooks. Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits.
(b) Dehooking device. At least one dehooking device is required and
must be used to remove hooks embedded in Gulf reef fish with minimum
damage. The hook removal device must be constructed to allow the hook to
be secured and the barb shielded without re-engaging during the removal
process. The dehooking end must be blunt, and all edges rounded. The
device must be of a size appropriate to secure the range of hook sizes
and styles used in the Gulf reef fish fishery.
[78 FR 22952, Apr. 17, 2013, as amended at 78 FR 46822, Aug. 2, 2013]
I don’t think it has to be a specific dehooker, such as a pvc turtle
dehooker - just have a dehooking device onboard (or preferably 2 in case one gets lost overboard while dehooking a fish), use
it as required, and you’ll be fine.
The fines are $250 for FIRST OFFENSE, and $500 for 2nd and 3rd offense.
$250 for the FIRST offense is a bit excessive so beat
them at their own game and have 1 (or 2) onboard.
Thanks to the charter captain and a federal LEO for their efforts to save us all from needless grief and monies lost due to this little-known rule.
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