Help Protect Goliath Groupers
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 April Meeting. Jupiter dive center urges you to help keep the protection of this species in place.
Diving with Goliaths
Diving with a goliath grouper 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.
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 lack of data to suggest the goliath population has adequately rebounded, the federal prohibition against harvesting goliaths will remain in place. The state, however, is considering altering their regulations.
The Next Step
The FWC Commissioners will meet on both Wednesday April 25th and Thursday, April 26th. The discussion concerning goliath grouper management is currently slated for Thursday at 8:30 (but is subject to change).
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.
Our View & What You Can Do To Help
Until more data about goliath groupers is available any decision to open up harvesting opportunities is premature. Please speak out against the potential for a limited open season. You can post comments at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.
Want to do even more? Voice your opinion at the FWC Commission meeting on April 26th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
For more information, tune into the video of the goliath grouper workshop presented at one of the Florida Keys workshops last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEsrtiCAjpQ
For a look at the April Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agenda, click Here!
Please join Jupiter Dive Center and many other dive organizations in opposing the reopening of a limited sport season for goliath groupers.