[Coral-List] FWC approves draft rule to kill Goliath Grouper

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 6 18:59:39 UTC 2021

Dear Coral-List community,
Today, in denial of all scientific evidence that shows the species is still endangered, with adult populations declining, the FWC Commissioners approved the draft rule to kill Goliath Grouper.

This is in violation of the 1990 federal and state moratorium on harvest.

The Commissioners requested some changes, so FWC staff will gather them and return with the final rule for the public hearing in March 2022.

The goal is to start killing in 2023.

If any of our NOAA friends are reading this message…. This is your time to take action.

During the meeting, the scientific evidence presented against the draft take rule was very solid. Also, the majority of public comment, from scientists, SCUBA diving organizations, even recreational fishing organizations, was against the take. I also know that several of the people on this list submitted public comments prior to the meeting. Thank you for all your help.

However, the Commissioners ignored all evidence and approved the draft rule, because as they said “this fish has been protected since 1990, and it’s time to re-open the fishery”

The draft rule presented today at the FWC public meeting included:
x Allow recreational harvest of 200 fish per year
x Open season: March 1 through May 31
x Size Slot: 20 to 36 inches by hook-and-line only
x Tag price: $500 per fish
x Target area: Harvest permitted in all Florida state waters (including Everglades National Park)
except for Palm Beach County -Atlantic coast of the Keys and Dry Tortugas National Park

What this means: Juveniles will be targeted in their mangrove nurseries. The juvenile habitat has been declining over the years, and the only functional habitat now will be targeted. This habitat is also remote and difficult to target for enforcement purposes. Remember, juveniles migrate from mangrove nursery to reef at size 120 cm (= 47 inches).

Important: reporting of catches by recreational fishermen is voluntary. We all know how well that works

The requests to modify the draft rule include:
x Increase the size of fish targeted because it was considered “too small” and “not enough for a trophy”  (this affects survival to the adult phase, also, increases exposure to methyl mercury when people eat the fish)
x Increase total harvest, as 200 fish killed per year was considered “too low a catch”
x Expand targeted area because the area targeted was considered” too small”
x Reduce the cost of the tag, now at $500 per fish, to “democratize access to fishery”

Important: Commissioners are convinced that FWC enforcement will be everywhere at all times, enforcing the regulations. I wonder if they have the power to teleport themselves, because in all the years spent in the mangroves and reefs of Florida, not once I’ve seen an FWC enforcement boat patrolling the waters.

Next steps:
If you want to be involved in what to do next, please, contact me off-list.


Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.
Twitter: @GrouperDoc
Science Blog: https://grouperluna.com/
Art Blog: https://oceanbestiary.com/

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