“In the 1970s and ’80s,” columnist Ed Killer reported recently in TCPalm.com, “divers easily harvested them using powerheads on spearguns, essentially underwater .357 magnums. Boaters mounted winches on gunwales to land the big fish. Fish houses paid as little as 40 cents per pound and a 300-pound fish could yield platter loads of fried grouper fingers.”
To save them from going extinct, in 1990 the agency then known as the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission banned killing and possession of goliath groupers, a ban that remains in place to this day. Two federal fisheries agencies also imposed bans, so they were protected in both state and federal waters.
Leaving them alone for three decades has revived the goliath grouper population. No one knows exactly how many there were before 1990, nor how many are swimming around now, he said. It’s just that they seem to be showing up more than they used to, particularly around artificial reefs.
And how would Floridians like to celebrate? By catching some of those big ol’ goliath groupers the way they did back in the ’80s! Unable to resist the lure of a forbidden fish, these folks have for years been clamoring for the marine commission’s successor, the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to let them go back to killing goliath groupers. After years of refusing to take the bait, so to speak, this month the commissioners finally said yes to letting people “harvest” the groupers again.
Read more here: https://floridaphoenix.com/2021/05/27/goliath-grouper-making-a-comeback-in-florida-so-lets-kill-em/
Credit: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute