The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
is Considering REMOVING The MORATORIUM On Goliath Groupers To Allow Sport Fishing.
In 1994, Goliath groupers were declared critically endangered and the fishing of Goliaths in both federal and state waters was prohibited. Now, there is a push to reopen a limited sport season in Florida waters and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is seeking public comment before their October Meeting. Jupiter Dive Center urges you to help keep the protection of this species in place.
Diving with Goliaths
Diving with Goliath groupers is an unforgettable experience. You hear them first—their distinctive bark booming through the water. Then they swim into view, gentle giants stretching up to eight feet and weighing in at a svelte 500 pounds.
Historically, Goliaths ranged well beyond our state’s shores, now, they are primarily found in southern Florida’s waters. In fact, every year from July through September, they aggregate off Jupiter, Florida to spawn. Jupiter Dive Center and other dive operations often run charters specifically to observe these aggregations, and seeing sixty or more of these behemoths is truly an incredible opportunity that only a fortunate few get to experience.
If you dive in Florida or live here, and have been lucky enough to witness the unique aggregation experience with these majestic creatures, truly the gentle giants of the ocean, then a change in the moratorium status could impact your ability to see these animals.
What You Can Do To Help
SUBMITTING YOUR PUBLIC COMMENTS IS CRITICAL to preventing a change of status to the current harvest moratorium. Such a change would allow harvesting the Goliath Grouper for the first time since the 1990s.
Either directly email or in person or both!
- SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS DIRECTLY to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioners (FWC) asking them to maintain the harvest moratorium and prevent the proposed, so-called “limited harvest.” DEMA has also drafted Email Diver Comments to FWC, which can be copied and pasted into an email or downloaded, and personalized from you. Comments can be sent directly to the Commission via email at: commissioners@MyFWC.com
Advance comments NEED to be submitted no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, October 1, 2021.
- PLAN TO ATTEND the FWC meeting in October. HAVING MORE DIVERS ATTEND THIS MEETING WILL GET THE ATTENTION OF THE FWC AND THE MEDIA. Diving organizations such as DEMA and REEF will have representatives there, but we must have substantial dive industry representation at this meeting, or the Commission will simply infer that the diving community doesn’t care.
The FWC Commissioners will meet on both Wed Oct 6th and Thu, Oct 7th. The discussion concerning Goliath grouper management is currently slated for Wednesday at 8:30 am (but is subject to change).
Data on Goliaths
An assessment of the Goliath population was conducted in 2016, but the report was not accepted at the federal level. Because of a lack of data to suggest the Goliath population has adequately rebounded, the federal prohibition against harvesting Goliaths remained in place. The state, however, is considering altering its regulations again and we need to take action!
According to the FWC website, staff will provide a review and discussion of Goliath grouper, including biology, stock status, and stakeholder feedback. They will then seek the Commission’s direction on what steps to take next for Goliath grouper management in state waters--which may include limited harvest.
FWC Summary Memo
For a look at the April Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agenda, click
Nat Geo recent article
Florida Pheonix Article by CRAIG PITTMAN
For more information, tune into the video of the Goliath grouper workshop presented at one of the Florida Keys workshops in 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEsrtiCAjpQ