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Are Goliath Grouper Fish Edible

author
David Lawrence
• Wednesday, 25 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Which, along with their size, made them a prime target for fishmongers and caused their population to drastically decrease, so much so that in 1990 the US had to put a harvest ban on the species with the Caribbean following suit in 1993, and Brazil in 2002. And while this means throughout most of the year the numbers of Goliath groupers sticking together in any one place is quite low, they are still easy targets due to the way they reproduce.

fish grouper goliath eat fail
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Contents

When the time to reproduce comes, Goliath groupers come together in large groups that are rarely made up of less than a hundred individuals. In other words, the Goliath groupers utilize the same few places and same few days a year to spawn, which makes them predictable, and thus, easy targets for fisherman looking to catch them.

You’ll only need fresh and cleaned grouper fillets, a lemon, and an Italian seasoning mix along with some salt and pepper. Put a generous amount of salt and pepper on both sides of the fish, lay the fillets out on the foil drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.

Rub salt and pepper over the fillets, lightly dust with flour, and fry in butter and olive oil (yes, both) for 3-4 minutes on each side. Squeeze some lemon over it when you flip the fish (be careful because the juice will start bubbling when it hits the heat).

The Atlantic goliathgrouper or Tamara (Epimetheus Tamara), also known as the Jewish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft). Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast.

On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

goliath grouper fish florida letting considering officials fisherman wildlife
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Young Atlantic Goliath groupers may live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers. They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb).

The world record for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernanda Beach, Florida, in 1961. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic goliathgrouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.

It is a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen because of the grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning annually to the same locations.

This makes them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding. Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, its population was in rapid decline.

The fish is recognized as “vulnerable” globally and “endangered” in the Gulf of Mexico. The species' population has been recovering since the ban; with the fish's slow growth rate, however, some time will be needed for populations to return to their previous levels.

grouper fish goliath meet
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Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespans change sex to male. Males can be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years.

In May 2015, the Atlantic goliathgrouper was successfully bred in captivity for the first time. Tidal pools act as nurseries for juvenile E. Tamara.

In tidal pools juvenile E.Tamara are able to utilize rocky crevices for shelter. Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab.

The Atlantic goliathgrouper has historically been referred to as the “Jewish”. It may have referred to the fish's status as inferior leading it to be declared only suitable for Jews, or the flesh having a “clean” taste comparable to kosher food ; it has also been suggested that this name is simply a corruption of jaw fish or the Italian word for “bottom fish “, Giuseppe.

In 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using the term because of complaints that it was culturally insensitive. Age, Growth, and Reproduction of Jewish Epimetheus Tamara in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

fishing grouper fish goliath bass saltwater air its bladder water peces river catfish salt giant spear line tackle wow salada
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Pseudorhabdosynochus species (Monogenoidea, Diplectanidae) parasitizing groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine, Epinephrine) in the western Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, with descriptions of 13 new species”. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Epimetheus Tamara.

Grouper is a family of fish that can reach sizes of up to 500 pounds. Goliath and other larger grouper, however, have tougher meat that is best used in chowders and stews.

While Goliath grouper can only be caught and released in the United States, there are many Asian countries that allow free-for-all fishing of these whoppers. Remove the scales of the fish on both sides by sliding the knife from the head, below the gills all the way down to the tail.

The giants of the grouper family, and one of the few that can be found in brackish water, the goliathgrouper can reach an astonishing 800 pounds and grow to over eight feet long. Once abundant in tropical waters, by the 1980s the goliathgrouper population had dwindled, largely due to commercial and recreational overfishing.

In the U.S., a harvesting ban was enacted in 1990 in the hopes that the goliathgrouper, now classified as Critically Endangered, could recoup their losses. Amanda Valley, FCC’s media contact, explained the turn of events, “After seeing a presentation on the recently completed federal stock assessment on Goliath at the February 2017 Commission meeting, FCC Commissioners directed staff to gather public input on a possible limited harvest opportunity.

grouper goliath fishing
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Staff gave information on how a limited harvest opportunity might work and the Commissioners wanted to get input on those ideas.” FCC Public Information Officer Brian Norris was asked directly if the harvest was a sure thing.

“Nothing has been decided either way,” Norris advised, saying that discussions are only in the “preliminary phases,” pending public input. A management plan is needed and “public input will be one of the major factors considered,” he added.

Jim Abernathy, an eco-tourism Florida dive charter operator with nearly four decades of experience, has been vocal in his opposition to a harvest, citing the following arguments. A Florida State University research team recently published findings that the goliathgrouper is still overfished, and critically endangered.

“You can’t ignore the scientific evidence confirming that Goliath groupers have not recovered to pre-exploitation levels, and cannot handle fishing pressure without entering again in a spiral towards extinction.” Supporters of the harvest say that the species’ eating habits is the cause of declining fish and lobster stocks.

They claim the goliathgrouper competes directly with recreational reef fish fishermen, and substantially reduces the population of grouper and snapper in South Florida. But researchers like Dr. Frias-Torres say that studies contradict this, and that overfishing, not the goliathgrouper, is the real cause of declining fish and lobster populations.

goliath grouper fish shark groupers weight giant eats much grow coast florida korsou chomps bite pounds feet
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Guy Harvey, “It is unlikely the population will be restored to former levels because of loss of habitat, overfishing of prey species and poaching. Florida State University researchers published a peer-reviewed paper showing that reef fish abundance and diversity was actually higher when Goliath groupers were present.

The study shows that Goliath groupers are ecological engineers that create life for many species. At .5 ppm the Natural Resources Defense Council recommends we avoid eating these fish because of the well known documented effects of mercury poisoning.

These aggregations bring people from far away to experience the thrill of seeing many of these great fish close at hand. Several charter boat captains were contacted for their opinions, but the controversial nature of the topic discouraged some of them from open communication.

He disclosed that his contact with goliathgrouper is minimal compared to other charter captains, and supported further studies. “Commercial and recreational fishermen, along with marine resource management entities should combine data collection efforts to determine if a harvest is warranted.

Bentley Jones adds, “Bottom line is the management needs to be dictated by the hard science that is diligently collected, compiled and analyzed, and not by financial, personal interests, or political opinions. In order to please trophy fishers, you risk cheating all Americans of our national treasure, because nowhere else in the world you can encounter a functional population of Goliath groupers as in Florida.

grouper goliath fishing
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Sources
1 theintrepidangler.com - http://theintrepidangler.com/100-miles-out-offshore-grouper-snapper-fishing-southwest-florida/
2 www.theguardian.com - https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2014/aug/21/huge-fish-eats-shark-off-florida-coast-video
3 igfa.org - https://igfa.org/2020/06/16/descending-devices-required-in-south-atlantic-to-help-snapper-grouper/
4 floridasportfishing.com - https://floridasportfishing.com/beer-battered-mystic-grouper/
5 fishingstatus.com - http://fishingstatus.com/fishing/species/fish/indexid/858408
6 anglr.com - https://anglr.com/fishing-blog/tag/grouper/
7 floridasfinestfishing.com - https://floridasfinestfishing.com/tag/grouper/
8 landsendmarina.com - https://landsendmarina.com/blog/2013/08/26/catch-gag-grouper-around-tampa-bay/