You may have seen our prior blog post on the goliath grouper. They can weigh up to 800 pounds and are generally found near Florida’s coral reefs. They’re generally fearless around humans, which makes them easy targets for fishermen.
These massive fish have been protected since 1990, after they almost went extinct. But now, Florida is considering allowing fishermen to catch goliath groupers for the first time in 30+ years.
Next month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will vote on a proposal to allow 200 goliaths to be caught each year with permits awarded through a lottery system. Permits would cost $500, and only juvenile goliaths under 36 inches could be taken. However, many environmental organizations, scientists, and dive groups are opposed to the idea and agree that the species should continue to be protected due to their declining numbers (in the adult population). Overall, population recovery for goliath groupers has not been promising. Many factors have contributed to this, including cold fronts that wiped them out, declining habitats, and poaching.
Fishermen and women feel differently and support the proposal. They complain about goliath groupers stealing their catch and eating all of the smaller fish around the reef. However, scientists dispute that and say studies show they eat mostly crabs and bottom-dwelling fish.
Where do you stand in the goliath grouper debate?