“The fact we’re even having this discussion means we’ve been successful,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chair BO River. Curious and generally fearless, they were easy targets for anglers and spear fishermen, especially when they gathered in large numbers in July and August to mate.
After the ban in 1990, the fish began to bounce back, but scientists believe Florida's record 2010 freeze likely sent numbers downward again. Anglers, however, have increasingly complained that the voracious fish are taking over reefs and gobbling up their catches.
A survey FCC conducted in the Keys and Dry Tortugas found just a 2 and 4.5 percent increase. They also said lobster counts have remained stable, indicating that the fish are not affecting the popular, and lucrative, crustacean.
The controversy over whether to allow harvesting has divided some anglers and divers, who consider the gentle Goliath a mascot for the reefs. On Thursday, about 60 speakers, nearly all divers and many wearing Save the Goliath T-shirts handed out by the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, criticized the move as an attempt to appease anglers.
“You’re awarding a trophy fish to essentially a lazy hunter,” said Miami diver James Woodard. UM Rosenthal School of Marine and Atmospheric Science fishery scientist Bill Hartford and Nova geneticist Andrea Bernard said they are working on building a statistical model, similar to methods used to assess blue fin tuna, that can account for gaps in catch history caused by the fishing moratorium and provide an accurate count for adult fish in Florida.
“People got us into this problem and if the fishing opens back up, we'll likely be back in this position,” said Ellie Fodder, a sophomore environmental study major at Becker College who left campus at 3:30 a.m. Thursday with her dive club, the Scuba Jews, and campus rabbi, Ed Rosenthal, to make the morning meeting. Its range includes the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys in the United States, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and most of the Brazilian coast.
Scientists from our Southeast Fisheries Science Center are working to understand the changes that have occurred in coral reef ecosystems following the loss of top predators, such as groupers. From 1997-2005, our researchers collaborated with Florida State University's Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology (Dr. Chris Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman) to monitor the status and recovery of Goliath grouper.
This Goliath grouper research program investigated juvenile and adult Jewish abundance, distribution and migration patterns; their age and growth; and their habitat utilization. With the help of Don Maria we have tagged over 1,000 adult Jewish and have observed aggregations of Goliath grouper in both the Gulf of Mexico and more recently, the South Atlantic.
Posters created by the Center of Marine Conservation help disseminate information about our project and its requirements, highlighting our tagging study and the morphology of Goliath grouper. Given that these groupers were afforded protected status, researchers worked to utilize and develop novel non-lethal techniques to procure and analyze biological samples for life history information.
Researchers have also determined that soft dorsal rays hold promise for aging older fish (Marie et al., 2008). These casualties, resulting from red tide, gave our biologists a unique opportunity to collect a multitude of biological samples, without having to sacrifice healthy animals.
From these decomposing carcasses, biologists were able to record length for use in an age/length relationship, and were able to extract monoliths and remove dorsal spines and rays for comparison of hard parts in age and growth analysis. Tissue samples were also removed and sent to the Florida Marine Research Institute, so they could evaluate the level of red tide toxin.
The sampling trip gave these biologists an opportunity to educate the curious beach goers about red tide and Goliath grouper (a few of which had been misidentified as baby manatees). Attempts to evaluate the data needed to assess the status of these depleted stocks and develop rebuilding plans present unique challenges.
In 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries convened a benchmark Goliath grouper assessment for the continental U.S. population. This project would not have been possible without ongoing collaboration with researchers from Florida State University, Everglades National Park, and the recreational fishing and SCUBA diving communities.
On August 26th, Joshua Anyzeski caught the prohibited species, removing it from the water to take a picture. The picture circulated on social media, which tipped off officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
These fishes weigh up to 900 pounds, making them very difficult to catch. It would be best if you had a lot of strength and technique to get them on the hook and pull them out of the water.
Red Grouper: These fishes are found in and around the Florida coasts. These fishes prefer to live in rocky areas where there are a lot of holes and caves.
They use these caves and holes to make it their home and hide if they sense any form of danger. These fishes are very lonely and prefer to live in very deep waters, from 20 to 200 meters.
They are known to have big mouths with very distinct lips and brown bodies with white spots. They have very powerful jaws, which they used to hunt small fishes and octopuses for their food.
Now that you know a little about Groupers, let us focus our attention on GoliathGroupers. To learn more about the specifics of the Goliath Grouper, check out Oceana.
Harvesting, it means that you cannot kill them since they are a federally protected species. Now the thing is, due to their size and difficulty to catch them, more often than not, when you manage to catch them, the pressure created due to their size and strength of their resistance, can break their skeletal system and hence killing them.
During winter, ranging from September to March is the perfect time to fish groupers. Due to their size and strength, conventional fishing techniques cannot be used to catch a Goliath Grouper.
On the other hand, having all the best and the right equipment will also not help you to win the battle against a grouper. When you go to buy a lure, you must check if it is ideal for deep trolling or not.
This kind of trolling with lures like butterfly jigs, feathers, or anything which can mimic a shellfish can attract a Grouper and is very effective. This is very effective because, once the Grouper comes out of its shelter to take a bite, they are so far off their home that once caught, and they cannot swim back in.
Frozen and natural baits such as squids, sardines, pinkish, grunts, blue runners, white mullet, squirrel fish, etc. If you use light or less strong tackles, there will be chances to break off, which will be a problem for both you and the fish.
On the other hand, on a conventional tackle, the line goes out in the same direction as the line is wound, which helps a lot in reeling and pulling up big fishes such as the Goliath Grouper. GoliathGroupers are caught using live or dead bait with an artificial lure.
These fishes are very strong and are keen to hide in their homes when they sense danger. To do that, you just anchor somewhat close to a cave, wreck, or reef where groupers usually reside.
Make sure you do not anchor too far away from the reefs to prevent the GoliathGroupers from returning to their home because if you are too far, they will never come out to your lure. Many factors go into catching a Goliath grouper, but technique, equipment, and intelligence are the most important aspects.
Now, what are you waiting for, go get the right equipment and take a buddy, because trust us you will need the additional strength, and go off to the nearby reef and catch a Goliath Grouper! Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing.
Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years. Its massive size and slow growth (it takes five to seven years for a grouper to become sexually mature) has made it highly susceptible to pressure from commercial and recreational fishing, which has led to its status as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Recently, the FCC conducted a stock assessment of the grouper’s numbers in Florida, and found it to be at much healthier levels than it was when first declared an endangered species. However, the study was rejected for use in federal waters by an independent panel of scientists due to its limited scope, which only included South Florida.
They’ve raised enough concern that the FCC is now considering reopening the fishery, albeit in a limited fashion. Due to the controversy around the issue, the FCC is hosting more than a dozen workshops to discuss the matter and to get a feel for public opinion.
Currently, one idea on the table is to create a four-year paid lottery that would allow 100 people each year to harvest one Goliath grouper. It would cost $300 to buy into, and the fish can only be caught by hook and line, with no commercial harvest or sale allowed.
Studies by Florida State University marine biologists in 2010 and 2011 found that the grouper is still being fished illegally and disagreed with anglers’ statements that the Goliath is a threat to their livelihood. Furthermore, they found that Goliath improve reef diversity rather than threaten it, countering a claim that has been made by proponents of an open fishery.
Regardless, anglers contend that they are competing with the grouper, saying that Goliath have snatched their catch from their lines as they were reeling them in.