And while this means throughout most of the year the numbers of goliathgroupers sticking together in any one place is quite low, they are still easy targets due to the way they reproduce. In other words, the goliathgroupers 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.
Since the distinct taste is giant grouper’s biggest charm, it’s better to cook it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the fish with other ingredients. 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). Sear the grouper in a pan, cut the fillets into small cubes, and lay them over the pasta.
The Atlantic Goliath grouper 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.
Young Atlantic goliathgroupers 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 Goliath grouper 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.
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. 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 Goliath grouper 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.
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.
^ “FLM NH Ichthyology Department: Goliath Grouper”. Age, Growth, and Reproduction of Jewish Epimetheus Tamara in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
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.
However, during reproduction (immediately after the full moons between June and December), they come together in groups of at least 100 individuals. These groups are known as spawning aggregations, and they form at relatively few places throughout the species’ range.
Though they were likely naturally rare, scientists believe that destructive fishing practices have reduced the numbers of the Atlantic goliathgroupers by at least 80% and that the species is now critically endangered. These fish utilize the same, few locations and same, few days for spawning every year, so their presence is quite predictable.
Furthermore, a total lack of fear of people makes them an easy target for spear fishers. Finally, the Atlantic Goliath grouper’s large size, slow growth, and ease of capture all contribute to slow its recovery, even where laws have been put in place to give it some or complete legal protection from fishing (e.g., in the USA and Brazil).
Scientists only recently divided the species into two, based on their slightly different genetic makeup. The two species are similar in both appearance and behavior, but little is known about the population trends or conservation status of the Pacific Goliath grouper.
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.
Once abundant in tropical waters, by the 1980s the Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper, now classified as Critically Endangered, could recoup their losses.
The ban was effective, and the FCC stock assessment in 2016 indicated that in South Florida their numbers had increased. 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.
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 Goliath grouper is still overfished, and critically endangered.
“You can’t ignore the scientific evidence confirming that goliathgroupers 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.
But researchers like Dr. Frias-Torres say that studies contradict this, and that overfishing, not the Goliath grouper, is the real cause of declining fish and lobster populations. 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 goliathgroupers were present. At .5 ppm the Natural Resources Defense Council recommends we avoid eating these fish because of the well known documented effects of mercury poisoning.
“ 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.” 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 Goliath grouper 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 goliathgroupers as in Florida.