MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- An Alabama study questions whether triggerfish populations are declining as sharply as reported in the Gulf of Mexico.
University of South Alabama researchers last week concluded that federal stock assessments may be showing a decline in triggerfish populations for a simple reason -- because the fishes' small mouths make them harder to catch with new hooks fishermen are required to use.
The National Marine Fisheries Service cut the annual quota for triggerfish in half after assessments indicated populations were too low. Assessments are based on the number of fish reported caught.
Bob Shipp, the university's head of marine sciences, says an experiment shows the new hooks caught only 1/3 the number of fish as the old hooks.