Breaking News! Victory!
No goliath grouper hunt in 2018 and for the foreseeable future.
The FWC Commissioners are keeping protections in place for the goliath groupers. So many wonderful groups and people came together to take a stand and protected these giants. Stay tuned for more updates!
There is no reason to hunt the critically endangered Goliath Grouper! Just ask Florida State University in this research article.
The economic gain from eco-tourism dive operators in Florida far exceeds the one time charge of $300 FWC purposes to charge to be able to kill this critically endangered Goliath Grouper. Goliath Groupers are actually ecological engineers that create more life in both diversity and abundance all around them just by existing, same as the wolves of Yellowstone Park.
Extremely high mercury levels 3.5 ppm make this fish illegal to sell as well as inedible due to health concerns. Stomach content analysis of their diet shows 85% is crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters and 15% is slow moving poisonous fish.
The reason for the decline in fish is due to over fishing, not the Goliath Grouper.
"Over-fishing is the reason for declining fish and lobster stocks; not Goliath Groupers."
- Dr. Sarah Frias-Torres
What Does Science Tell Us?
1. A recent Florida State University research team published a paper on their findings stating "The Goliath Grouper is still Overfished and Critically Endangered!"
2. A recent research paper by Dr. Sarah Frias-Torres shows that over-fishing is the reason for declining fish and lobster stocks; not Goliath Groupers.
3. An analysis of Goliath Grouper stomach contents by University of Florida found that 85% of their diet consists of crabs and other crustaceans. The other 15% was found to consist of slow moving fish such as pufferfish, catfish and stingrays; not game fish.
4. Florida State University researchers published a peer reviewed paper showing that reef fish abundance and diversity is higher when goliath Groupers are present on those reefs. This study shows that goliath groupers act as ecological engineers, creating life for many marine species.
5. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with other entities, have conducted several stock assessments of Goliath Groupers, with the most recent survey taking place in 2016. The FWC's recent assessment concluded that Goliath Grouper populations had recovered. However, these results were rejected by a panel of independent scientists brought in by the FWC to review the study. The panel rejected the manner in which these assessments were conducted and labeled the findings as an inconclusive measure of population. Currently, the Goliath Grouper is still listed as 'critically endangered'.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) concludes that if permits to harvest the grouper are sold for $300 (an approximation), the current proposal to issue 400 Goliath Grouper permits could bring in roughly $120,000 to be used for 'scientific research' aimed to protect Goliaths. In addition, they state these captured fish can be sold for food.
Here are a few more reasons the Goliath Grouper should not be hunted.
1. The Goliath Grouper has become a huge, thriving, piece of the ecotourism industry along Florida's East Coast. One, out of the roughly one-hundred, scuba operators in South Florida stated that he brings in an estimated $500,000 each year, generated by taking divers to see these groupers in the wild. By protecting these animals, the long-term economic benefits to the state of Florida far exceed the value generated by a one time kill.
2. Dr. Chris Koenig's research revealed that the flesh of the Goliath Grouper contains high levels of mercury. Mercury levels in these fish were found to approach 3.5 ppm, far exceeding federal health advisory warnings. The FDA prohibits the sale of any fish with mercury higher than 1.0 ppm. With mercury levels higher than 0.5 ppm, the Natural Resources Defense Council recommends to avoid consumption due to the danger of mercury poisoning.
3. Former Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Dr. Sylvia Earle, warned that, "Killing the Goliath Grouper would be killing the growing economic benefits derived from divers who want to see these Iconic animals, who are often as curious as us.
4. Some say that a 'sustainable' annual harvest of Goliath Groupers is possible, but many scientists agree that the current population would not last more than a year or two after opening such a fishery.
From Dr. Guy Harvey
"It is unlikely the population will be restored to former levels because of loss of habitat, over-fishing of prey species and poaching. Now there is the suggestion of culling. Long lived slow growing fish cannot tolerate any level of exploitation.
We should have learned this from what has happened to snappers, groupers and sharks all around the world. So you want to start culling Goliaths….? Where and when? At what size? What are you going to do with the fish that are killed? Turn them into cat food? They cannot be eaten by humans due to very high mercury levels. If you kill the juveniles before they have a chance to reproduce, that is disastrous fishery management.
Goliath grouper spawning aggregations have become a new destination for divers for a limited time each year. These aggregations bring people from far away to experience the thrill of seeing many of these great fish close at hand. This activity benefits the local economy without killing a single fish, just the same as shark ecotourism.
I hope the science will prevail and people will make the right decision."
From Jim Abernethy
"On my own behalf I can tell you without question that my business triples during the time of the year the Goliath Grouper aggregation is here! My clients come from all over the world to see them.
With all the facts from scientific research... Their poisonous and shouldn't be eaten, they are essential to the environment by providing life to many more fish, as well as the huge economic benefits, the decision is obvious! Do not allow the harvest of these iconic species!"