Recreational fishers around the state disagree with the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission’s (MFC) push to require barbless circle and treble hooks for recreational fishing and argue that very little research supports the Commission’s stance on the effects of hook trauma by treble and off-set hooks.
So, what is a barbless circle hook exactly? According to the MFC, a circle hook is defined as “a hook with the point directed perpendicularly back toward the shank with the barb either compressed or removed.” The MFC believes these hooks can be effectively utilized to prevent deep-hooking and reduce dead discards in catch-and-release fisheries.
According to the Recreational Hook-and-line Discard Work Group, few studies have been conducted in North Carolina that evaluate the effectiveness of these hooks. Additionally, a clear definition for circle and barbless hooks has yet to be determined. Despite certain information and identification gaps, circle hooks are already a requirement for recreational anglers fishing for Red Drum in the Pamlico Sound. They also became a requirement for shark fishing in all state waters on June 22, 2020.
Before the MFC moves forward with the requirement of barbless circle and treble hooks for recreational fishing in North Carolina, the Recreational Hook-and-line Discard Work Group has advised the MFC thoroughly analyze the economic impacts of this regulation to assure it will benefit the state’s fishery, businesses, and anglers.