Oct 7, 2021 - News
Florida's goliath grouper ban could be lifted
Captain Jack Weygant (right) poses with two men and three goliath grouper caught near Fort Lauderdale, circa 1960.
Captain Jack Weygant (right) poses with two men and three goliath grouper caught near Fort Lauderdale, circa 1960. Photo: International Game Fish Association via Getty Images

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is advancing a plan to lift a three-decades-old ban on catching and killing goliath groupers in Florida waters.

Driving the news: FWC approved a proposed draft changing the rules yesterday, CBS Miami reports.

  • Any issues or changes will be addressed at meetings expected to conclude by March 2022.

Details: The new rules would open a 3-month season and issue 200 one-fish permits via lottery. Only goliaths between 20 and 36 inches could be kept.

Context: The largest grouper in the Atlantic, which mostly lives off reefs in South Florida, can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh 800 pounds ā€” so big they can eat a four-foot shark in one bite.

Why it matters: Goliath grouper were delisted as a "species of special concern" by NOAA in 2006 and the FWC says groupers have continued to increase in abundance since the fishery was closed in 1990.

  • "For a variety of reasons, some fishermen want harvest to be allowed, including desires for reduced interactions with goliath while fishing, opportunities to harvest a very large fish, and belief that harvest access should not be restricted indefinitely," FWC said in a statement.

Yes, but: While most scientists agree the species is recovering, some say populations are not yet where they should be.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.