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FWC approves initial proposal for harvesting Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper
Posted at 7:19 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 12:37:42-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Florida wildlife commission is looking at changes to the 31-year ban on catching Goliath Grouper.

On Wednesday, the commission’s staff was asked to draft a proposal that would clarify how many fish could be caught, possible restrictions, and how licenses would be distributed.

The decision is the first step in reversing the 31-year ban that is currently in place.

During public comment on Wednesday, one group that seemed to have views on both sides of the argument, were fishing charters.

Some said they have been impressed with the number of Goliath Grouper they have seen in recent years.

So Fox 4 checked in with Day 5 Charters down on Fort Myers Beach and asked Captain Josh Santangelo to see if they are also hooked on the proposal.

“let just say, they do 1,000 tags a year, and they don’t regulate the area. what’s going to happen is they are going to kill the whole population of the area. so, if there are 1,000 fish that people can keep out there… then we are not going to see goliath grouper ever again,” said Santangelo.

The commission did not decide on how many goliath could be caught, but a previous proposal did float the idea around of 100 per year.

Other voices who opposed the harvest were from Florida’s dive industry.

Goliath Grouper can reach upwards of 600 pounds and many divers say these fish are a big lure for customers who want to photograph these giant fish.

The hope is that by moving forward with the proposal, staff will be able to learn more about the Goliath Grouper and deliver a clear proposal.

“My biggest thing is like, ya I catch Goliath Grouper all the time, and it’s easy to catch, you drop some bait down there they are going to eat it. But I catch the same six fish every week. If they do open it, it’s like somebody is going to go to the wreck that I caught ‘em on and they are gonna catch that fish, and then that wreck is Goliath free,” said Santangelo.

The vote to move forward was 6 to 1 but many still say they are not opposed to harvesting Goliath Grouper, but feel they are not ready for that decision at this time.