Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Farris Bryant Building
620 S. Meridian St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
Via Email: commissioners@MyFWC.com
I am writing to express opposition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) proposed “limited harvest” of Goliath Grouper in Florida.
As the Commission is aware, this species is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Even after repeated attempts, neither the Commission nor fisheries scientists have sufficient data about the life history of these fish; there is a lack of basic information about the maximum age of Goliaths as well as stocks outside the southeastern U.S.
FWC has previously acknowledged that the Goliath Grouper’s juvenile population is fragile, that there are few Goliaths in older age classes, and low levels of adult density on natural reefs. FWC has previously acknowledged that there is a need for a minimum five-to-seven-year study on genetic diversity before harvest can take place.
A limited harvest of Goliath Grouper also serves no useful purpose; FWC itself has noted in the past that a limited harvest will serve no valid data collection purpose, stating; “It is important to note that any data gathered from a limited harvest will not result in accepted stock assessment.” FWC also warned that a limited harvest raises “concerns about consumption…because of high levels of mercury in large Goliath.”
Goliath Grouper have also become extremely popular hosts to underwater habitats and are mentioned frequently by visiting/tourist divers who greatly enjoy watching these remarkable creatures roam the ocean floor. Alive, these fish are economically important to Florida’s economy. A limited harvest seems to serve no valid purpose, except, perhaps providing the ‘opportunity’ of harvest for a small group of fishers.
Please do not permit ANY harvest of this vulnerable species. Please maintain the current harvest moratorium until the Goliath has been shown through objective data to have recovered, not only in Florida but throughout its range.