Goliath Grouper Fishing: Should the Ban be Lifted?

Goliath groupers can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow approximately eight feet in length. These amazing creatures which can be found hanging out right here in the coral reefs of Florida almost became extinct over three decades ago, and they have been protected ever since. 

Recently, however, according to NPR 90.7 WMFE, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been considering once again allowing goliath grouper fishing, but with strict limitations. The proposal that is on the table suggests the harvest of only 200 goliath groupers per year with permits obtained through a lottery and costing $500 each. Additionally, these fish could be no larger than 36 inches.

Although numbers of goliath groupers are growing, many environmentalists, scientists, divers and even some fisherman voiced worry over this proposal and would like the ban on goliath groupers extended. The goliath grouper relies on years of slow growth; and the recent change in its numbers is due to an increase in young goliaths, while the adult population is still on the decline. The argument for keeping the goliath fishing ban in place is that mature fish are needed for healthy reproduction of the species, and we’re not there yet. 

Recreational fishermen in favor of lifting the ban on goliath grouper fishing argue that these massive fish eat all the other fish on the reef. They further dispute that there are other species of once endangered fish that had not become as prolific as the goliath grouper is today when the fishing ban on them was lifted.