IGFA updates rules to encourage all-release tournaments

The International Game Fish Association — the Dania Beach-based organization that certifies world records and operates a fishing museum and the Fishing Hall of Fame — recently produced a new set of release rules to encourage all-release fishing tournaments.

All-release formats, circle hooks and other conservation measures are familiar to ocean anglers who fish sailfish tournaments off the coasts of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

In the sailfishing world, all-release tournaments with mandatory circle hook use seems to be paying off. Forty-six boats released a record 1,174 sails during this year’s Silver Sailfish Derby, including 659 on the first day of fishing Jan. 5.

The IGFA believes clear rules on all-release fishing will encourage all-release touraments for other species and a better future for the sport of fishing.

“Anything we can do to promote the proper release of fish, especially in a tournament setting, is good,” IGFA President Rob Kramer said in a statement. “Anglers have realized that in order for our sport to thrive, we must each take responsibility for being good stewards of our resources.”

A couple of points from the release rules:

*A fish is considered officially released when the mate is able to grab the leader or the swivel touches the rod tip or the knot connecting the line to the leader passes through the rod tip.

*Leaders must conform to IGFA tackle requirements. That means leaders must be 15 feet or less on line up to 20-pound-test; for line over 20-pound-test, the leader cannot exceed 30 feet.

*The maximum fly rod leader length is 15 feet, including the fly.

Here are some additional tips from the IGFA for the safe and ethical release of fish:

*Circle hooks are encouraged. (They’re required by law in sailfish tournaments.)

*The hook should be removed if it’s possible to do so without harming the fish or the angler.

*If the hook can’t be removed, cut the leader as close to the hook as possible.

*Refrain from “popping” or yanking hard on leaders to break them. This can harm the fish.

*Take time to revive exhausted fish by gently moving them forward to get water flowing over their gill plates.

*Knotless, rubber-coated nets should be used on fish that are netted.

Details of the IGFA’s fishing rules can be found at: www.igfa.org/fish/international-angling-rules.aspx.

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