Postdoctoral Steven Scyphersresearcher Steven Scyphers, working with the Grabowski Lab at the Marine Science Center, investigates the human side of fisheries management. In a recent piece in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Scyphers and colleagues present results of a study of recreational fishers around the practice of “venting”.

When catching fish from deeper waters, a fish may experience severe abdominal swelling from the rapid change in pressure as it is reeled up to the surface. This may be alleviated by inserting a hollow needle into the fish’s abdomen to release the pressure.  As with many tools introduced in fisheries management, this technique is not without uncertainty or critics, and it needs to be performed properly to be effective.

Scyphers’ study looked into the perceptions and practices of recreational fishers about the use and efficacy of this practice, and concludes that many fishers vent fish improperly and that extensive outreach and education on how best to practice the technique is needed in places where venting is required. Scyphers and colleagues also suggest that policies relying the participation of fishers should better incorporate an understanding of their knowledge and perspectives to be most effective and maintain trust in fisheries management.