More on this petition:
The Atlantic Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus itajara, a large indigenous tropical reef fish, approached local extinction in U. S. waters by the 1980s as a result of intense fishing pressure. In 1990, federal and state laws intervened to protect this species. The resulting fishery closure, over the last 30 years, allowed limited, slow population recovery in Florida waters while populations outside of the United States remained vulnerable. The closure led to the blossoming of a dive ecotourism industry catering to local and international divers seeking opportunities to see and photograph these enormous fish. This fundamentally changed the paradigm for Goliath Grouper from a fishery resource to a non-extractive resource with a commercial value vastly greater than that gained through fishing. While federal and state agencies attempted to re-establish the fishery, all three stock assessments were rejected. A controversy arose surrounding its protection--some fishers wanted to reopen a fishery while other fishers and those in the dive ecotourism industry want to keep it closed in perpetuity. Drawbacks to re-establishing a fishery include loss of nursery habitat (mangroves with good water quality) where they remain for the first 5-6 years of life, increasingly destructive episodic events like red tide and cold snaps, the effects of mercury contamination on the survival of the fish and the serious health risk to humans of consuming mercury-contaminated fishes. An essay published in FISHERIES magazine in January 2020 details the problems with reopening a fishery for Goliath Grouper in Florida. See "Koenig, CC, FC Coleman and CR Malinowski 2020. Atlantic Goliath Grouper of Florida: To Fish or Not to Fish. FISHERIES 45:1" -- for more information and to view the essay, visit www.baetcollective.com/grouper Please show your support for the continued protection of Goliath Grouper and for the restoration and conservation of South Florida estuaries and mangroves which serve as nurseries for this and many other marine species.