A Review of Marine Recreational Hook Regulations in the United States: Accessibility, Incorporation of Science, and Recommendations

The effects of fish-hook type on hooking location and post-release mortality of recreationally and commercially targeted fish species have been well studied. We examined how fisheries management agencies along the coastal United States had incorporated fish-hook data into fisheries regulations and how visible and accessible those regulations were to anglers. We reviewed state recreational hook regulations on natural resource agency websites of 23 states. To assess the accessibility of hook regulations to anglers, we conducted an online survey that was distributed by email to participants throughout the United States including fishing enthusiasts, fishing clubs, conservation organizations, state agency officials, and students and faculty in resources departments at multiple universities. Survey participants ranged from non-anglers to experienced recreational anglers. State regulations varied; 69% of states had regulations and/or recommendations regarding the use of various hook types and the remaining states had no regulations. Survey results suggested that website design was a key factor to increase accessibility of hook regulations. Survey participants found that accessibility to hook regulations was generally moderate to difficult in most states; only two states had easily accessible regulations. Resource agencies should make hook regulations more visible and readily available to anglers to promote sustainable fishing practices.

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