What B.A.S.S. has done for catch-and-release in bass fishing, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) wants to do for offshore saltwater fishing.
“It’s amazing how much bass tackle is in this room,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman, referring to the halls of the ICAST tackle show in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. “Why? Because of healthy bass fisheries.” He credited the promotion of catch-and-release bass fishing by B.A.S.S. and its Bassmaster tournaments for recycling so many sportfish in freshwater. “Without that, much of that tackle wouldn’t be here.”
Now is the time to spread that ethic to fishing for deep water species in saltwater, he said.
To inspire manufacturers to create new tools for the healthy release of snapper, grouper and other game fish of the deep, ASA has launched the new FishSmart program, which recognizes products that help saltwater fish survive upon release.
Nussman said a similar program in Australia resulted in an increase in fish survival of 20 to 50 percent.
The first to earn a FishSmart tackle award is The Seaqualizer, developed by Florida-based Finovation Inc. The device combats barotrauma, which occurs when a fish is brought up from deep water and its swim bladder is unable to deflate enough for the fish to return to the deep. The Seaqualizer is clipped to the mouth of the fish, which is lowered on a fishing line to a preset depth, where the clips are released.