Recreational fishing is not allowed in federal waters, as mandated by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996. This act was put in place to recognize the importance of a healthy habitat for commercial and recreational fishing, as fish and other marine species depend on their habitat to survive and reproduce. In state waters, reef fish species such as grouper, snapper, gray crossbowfish, red porgy, bass, pigfish and white fish are subject to certain regulations. Anglers must use no more than three hooks when fishing for these species, except for herring templates which can be used for fish intended for marine food. Other equipment such as ventilation tools or descent devices can be used to help release fish that suffer from barotrauma, which is the expansion of gases in the swim bladder when a fish is extracted from depths greater than 50 feet.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for the protection of walruses, manatees, sea otters and polar bears. Management recommendations should restore overexploited populations and allow sustainable fishing for these species throughout the Atlantic Ocean, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Catch reduction plans should also be implemented to minimize dead and seriously injured marine mammals in commercial fishing gear. Circular hooks are 90% more likely to snag fish in the mouth than in the esophagus or stomach.
Fish or parts of fish must wear their skin while on board the ship and at the time of disembarkation to meet the minimum size requirements. The legislation includes several provisions designed to prevent illegally caught fish from entering the United States and supports efforts to achieve sustainable fishing around the world. The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act requires all federal agencies to consult with NOAA Fisheries, U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and other relevant agencies before taking any action that may affect fish or wildlife resources. Anyone traveling on a commercial, rental or private recreational vessel must have a ventilation tool or descent device prepared and ready for use when fishing for reef fish in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Barbed hooks or single-ended hooks may be required to fish for salmon, rainbow trout, sturgeon or trout in certain bodies of water. It is important to check the rules and exceptions in the area before fishing.