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Is It Illegal To Keep Grouper

author
James Smith
• Wednesday, 21 October, 2020
• 8 min read

Maggie Marmoreal/For the Herald The Goliath grouper, the monster reef fish that can grow to 800 pounds and nearly disappeared in the 1970s, is off-limits for now. On Thursday, Florida wildlife commissioners refused to lift a nearly two-decade ban on harvesting the fish, citing continued uncertainty about the remaining numbers and bowing to the demands of divers and scientists, who packed a meeting and led an online petition that drew nearly 60,000 signatures.

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(Source: memecrunch.com)

Contents

“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.

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(Source: www.howtocatchanyfish.com)

“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. Gulf grouper are large fish that live in shallow, coastal areas during their first 2 years of their life, before moving on to rocky reefs and kelp beds.

Gulf grouper used to be very common in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but they became scarce because commercial and recreational fisherman could easily catch them. Their abundance has severely declined since the mid-20th century primarily because of direct harvest by commercial and artisanal fisheries.

Outside a known population in Bahia Magdalena, there is no published evidence of gulf grouper along the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula. Current gulf grouper distribution appears to be much more limited than their historical range.

Gulf grouper prefer to hunt at dawn and dusk when it is less bright and more prey are available. Adult gulf grouper are mainly found around rocky reefs, underwater mountains, and kelp beds.

Gulf grouper are also likely protogynous hermaphroditic, which means that they mature as females and later transition into males. Adult gulf grouper gather in large groups to reproduce once per year.

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(Source: zooll.com)

They gather at reefs and underwater mountains and form spawning aggregations from April to June. Activities that may degrade their habitat include the release of contaminants, such as urban runoff, wastewater, or oil and gas spills.

Pollution can also reduce the amount of oxygen in the water or deliver chemicals that are toxic to these fish. Physical barriers, such as shoreline and offshore development can also threaten gulf grouper by limiting their access to important breeding or feeding areas.

Overfishing Direct harvest of gulf grouper, especially at spawning aggregation sites, is the biggest threat to the species. First, adult gulf grouper gather in large groups at the same time every year to reproduce.

Additionally, gulf grouper likely start life as females but later transition into males. This means that there are fewer male groupers left in the oceans, which makes reproduction more difficult.

Smaller fish are dark brown overall, punctuated with coin-size pearly white spots on the sides. A distinctive black, saddle-shaped blotch occurs on the caudal peduncle and extends down below the lateral line.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

Larger snowy groupers usually lose the white spots and caudal saddle and become dark brown with a slight coppery tint. Snowy groupers can be found in the outer continental shelf of the South Atlantic Bight, which is characterized by ridges, terraces and precipitous cliffs.

The species is distributed in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Lesser Antilles and the northern coast of Cuba. Snowy grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, spawning from May to June and releasing more than 2 million eggs.

CLOSED Open Season: May 1 – August 31 Note: since this species is managed under an Annual Catch Limit, the fishery could close if the recreational Annual Catch Limit is met or projected to be met. If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here.

Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.

Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

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(Source: www.saltstrong.com)

If an in-season closure were to be announced by NOAA Fisheries, all relevant information will be included here Bottom longline is allowed only in depths 50 fathoms or more and only north of St. Lucie Inlet, Florida.

Recreational and commercial fishermen are required to use hooking tools when fishing for snapper grouper species. At least one hooking device is required and must be used as needed to remove hooks embedded in South Atlantic snapper- grouper with minimum damage.

Definition of a Descending Device: an instrument to which is attached a minimum of a 16 ounce weight and a length of line that will release the fish at the depth from which the fish was caught or a minimum of 60 feet. Since minimizing surface time is critical to increasing survival, descending devices shall be readily available for use while engaged in fishing.

Anglers may soon get their chance to take home one of the great leviathans of the sea: the Goliath grouper. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering opening up a limited Goliath grouper season for the first time in nearly 30 years.

A slot is a designated minimum and maximum size that's used to ensure that the larger breeding population is not overfished. FCC staff proposed a maximum $300 tag and no harvest of the species during the spawning season, which runs from July through September.

grouper goliath fishing catch howtocatchanyfish
(Source: www.howtocatchanyfish.com)

The staff also recommended a slot of 47 to 67 inches, which means fish must measure between those two numbers in order to be kept legally. “Staff was directed to gather public input on a potential limited harvest of Goliath grouper and bring those comments back before the commission in late 2017,” Amanda Valley, with FCC, wrote in an email to The News-Press.

Westley remembers times when fishermen would carry Goliath grouper fillets in wheelbarrows and slice them up into tiny bits that would later be fried. The goal of the FCC proposal is to allow a limited fishing season that won't impact the rate of recovery the species has enjoyed over the past 20 years.

Florida made it illegal to keep Goliath grouper in 1990, and the species was listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered in 1994. They hunt and live near reefs and submerged ships and other man-made structures and are easily enticed by pretty much any type of bait.

Once found from North Carolina to Texas, this species now ranges from Florida to Brazil and throughout the Caribbean Sea, Goliath grouper are also susceptible to large events like red tide and seasonal cold fronts, according to FCC.

There are no size restrictions for catching anything, it's the keeping part that is regulated. You're not even allowed to pull Jewish out of the water here in Florida at the moment.

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Sign in it really depends on where you live... I am guessing Florida, so check myfwc.com, but you first have to catch one.

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05: Goliath Grouper Are They Dangerous
06: Goliath Grouper Attack
07: Goliath Grouper Attacks On Humans
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09: Goliath Grouper Australia
10: Goliath Grouper Average Size
Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_goliath_grouper
2 www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu - https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/epinephelus-itajara/
3 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/goliath/