[Coral-List] Urgent: Kill fishery of Goliath Grouper in Florida

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 4 18:46:59 UTC 2022

for specific questions about the regulations of the kill fishery of the endangered Goliath Grouper, you need to contact directly FWC https://myfwc.com/

As a scientist doing research on Goliath Grouper for several years, I can only answer one of your questions:

"Did they pick the smaller size range of fish because they could possibly be eaten, ie not toxic enough to cause illness?"
The initial sizes proposed were even smaller. The sizes approved are larger, because, as per FWC Commissioners "it was not enough of a trophy", revealing the true purpose of this kill fishery. The sizes approved for the kill fishery have high methyl mercury content, to the level that it is a serious health concern and a danger to public health. Unless you want to have impaired brain function, permanent neurological disorders, and erectile dysfunction.

There is no scientific support for the kill fishery, and the community at large is against it. All the evidence has been provided extensively to FWC Commissioners and FWC staff. Yet, they decided to ignore it and approve the kill fishery.

Notice, Goliath Grouper is under a 1990 federal and state moratorium on harvest. A kill fishery of one of the last ocean giants still alive has been approved in Florida state waters, ignoring scientific evidence, during an environmental crisis in Florida (e.g. collapse of the Indian River Lagoon), during both a global biodiversity crisis and climate crisis. This should make us pause and re-evaluate where we are going.

Here is a short video explaining why it is so important NOT to kill Goliath Grouper

Here is a review paper compiling what we know so far about Goliath Grouper and why the species needs protection:
Koenig CC, Koenig, Coleman FC, Malinowski CR (2020) Atlantic Goliath Grouper of Florida: To Fish or Not to Fish. Fisheries Magazine 45 (1): 20-32

And you can always browse through posts in my blog


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

From: Matthew Nolan <mpn123jm at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, March 4, 2022 1:49 AM
To: Sarah Frias-Torres <sfrias_torres at hotmail.com>
Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Urgent: Kill fishery of Goliath Grouper in Florida

When will the lotto rules be fixed in stone?

200 permits only right?

My 80 year old aunt lives in Fla, for $10 I'd like to enter her, I'd even cover the $150 permit for her.

THink the odds of her getting out and catching one are slim though since she broke her hip and was  bedridden for a while.

Will the permits be transferable?

If I enter and win one would be awesome if I could give it to my aunt, save myself $350, as I'm in California.

Certainly would up the odds of one being caught, considerably, as doubtful I'll be catching one fishing every evening in my backyard (after the open season starts).

Can I enter multiple times?  Limit of one entry per person?

Since its a public agency, are the names of the people entering the lotto going to be publicly available?

I'd like to know who thinks it's ok to kill these fish.

Did they pick the smaller size range of fish because they could possibly be eaten, ie not toxic enough to cause illness?

Does one have to be at least N years old to enter the lotto, secure a permit if they win?

Might be good publicity if a teacher of 1st graders say entered all the students in the class in the lotto as part of an environmental studies lesson.

On Wed, Feb 16, 2022 at 3:49 AM Sarah Frias-Torres via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>> wrote:
There are still marine wildlife and places worth saving.
Today, I ask you to show some love for the magnificent Goliath Grouper.
Please, amplify this message through your networks. Reach out to broadcast and written media, social media, to people at higher trophic levels if you can.
Do not let the gentle giants die in ignorance.

FWC Commissioners deny scientific evidence and stakeholder input for Goliath Grouper.
FWC Commissioners (Florida Fish and Wildlife) will vote on a kill fishery for endangered Goliath Grouper during their March 3, 2022 meeting. This kill fishery is disguised as a “highly regulated limited take” to “allow more people to access the resource” and to “collect scientific data”.
There are five key problems associated with the kill fishery:

  1.  Scientific evidence shows the population cannot support a kill fishery, due to numbers of breeding adults going down, consistently, since 2016, existing stressors that kill Goliaths (red tides, cold fronts), and shrinking critical nursery habitat (e.g. fringing red mangroves, recent ecological collapse of the Indian River Lagoon). Scientific evidence also shows we can collect all required data without killing any fish.
  2.  More than 90 % of public comments submitted during previous meetings (fishers, divers, businesses) reject the proposed kill fishery, because Goliath Groupers are more valuable alive than dead, through the dive ecotourism industry
  3.  Due to high methyl mercury content in Goliath Grouper, approving a kill fishery for human consumption endangers public health
  4.  FWC allows targeted catch and release of Goliath Grouper. This was done without a scientific evaluation of mortality. It is a violation of the 1990 federal and state moratorium on harvest. Catch and release are allowed in mangroves (juveniles) and in reefs, including spawning aggregation sites during spawning season. We have seen breeding adults with eyes gouged out, blind, and with major injuries due to barotrauma and boat landings. These fish will die and no longer contribute to the population. Therefore, FWC has de facto approved a kill fishery, without a scientific evaluation and in violation of an active federal and state moratorium.
  5.  FWC has no capacity to enforce the strict requirements of this “highly regulated fishery”

Summary of the kill fishery proposal.
FWC Commissioners will vote on this proposal at their March 3, 2022 meeting:
For more details, see FWC meeting agenda, details to attend in-person and links to send your comment directly to FWC Commissioners

  *   Total number:  200 goliath grouper per year, with no more than 50 from Everglades National Park.

Consequence: if allowed to grow, this will be the equivalent of exterminating 4 spawning aggregations per year

  *   Fishing permit: Award one permit and tag per person per year via random-draw lottery.
Consequence: fishers not securing ticket will still feel entitled to kill goliaths. FWC has no capacity to enforce that every goliath killed is through a permit, as they don’t have the ability to patrol every mangrove coastline in Florida and check every fisher.
  *   Lottery:  Establish a lottery application fee of $10 and a permit fee of $150 for residents and $500 for nonresidents,
Consequence: 32 years of protection are valued at $150 per fish. In comparison, one spawning aggregation site alone can generate one million dollars a year every spawning season due to revenues from recreational scuba divers (based on dive boat occupancy, fees and scuba tank rental paid by divers).
  *   Target size & gear:  24-36 inches total length with hook-and-line as the only allowable gear.
Consequence: This is close to the size at which juvenile Goliaths move from their mangrove nursery to the adult reef habitat. These fish have survived up to 8 years of juvenile death in mangroves, and they are most likely to survive to breeding adults.
  *   Killing season:  March 1 through May 31 each year.
Consequence: this season overlaps with red tides and potential cold-water events, both known to produce mass mortality events. So, the season and numbers targeted are pressuring the population in addition to existing stressors that reduce the population
  *   Target region:  Allow harvest from all state waters except those of Martin County, including the St. Lucie River and its tributaries, south through the Atlantic coast of Monroe County, and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Consequence: killing is allowed in the few mangrove nursery habitats left for this species, and inside National Parks
  *   Requirements: harvesters to submit harvest and biological information
Consequence: Killing for science is not needed. We can do all the science we need without killing the fish.


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

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