Does venting promote survival of released fish?

Gene R. Wilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Fishes captured and brought to the surface by commercial and recreational fishers may suffer a variety of injuries that collectively are referred to as barotrauma. To relieve barotrauma symptoms, particularly those associated with an expanded swim bladder, some anglers deflate, or vent, the swim bladder (or body cavity when the swim bladder has ruptured) of fishes before releasing them. I compiled 17 studies that assessed the potential benefits of venting in 21 fish species and 1 composite group. These studies provided 39 sample estimates that compare survival (N = 18) and recapture rates (N = 21) of vented and unvented fish. I used relative risk to summarize results of individual studies, which allowed me to combine results from experimental and capture-recapture studies. Overall, there was little evidence that venting benefited fish survival. Venting was equally ineffective for freshwater and marine fishes and its efficacy was unaffected based on whether venting was performed by fishery biologists or anglers. The effects of venting did vary with capture depth: venting was slightly beneficial to fish captured from shallow waters, but appeared to be increasingly harmful for fish captured from progressively deeper waters. The available evidence suggests that venting fish should not only be discouraged by fishery management agencies, but given the possibility that venting may adversely affect survival of fish captured from deep water, this practice should be prohibited, rather than required by regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


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