Share your input on the future management of goliath grouper The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants your input on a final rule proposal that, if approved at the March 2022 Commission meeting, would allow a limited, highly regulated harvest of goliath grouper in Florida state waters. This proposal includes a special opportunity for harvest through a lottery draw, while enacting area and seasonal closures, size and gear restrictions, and post-harvest requirements.
This limited harvest would allow users additional access opportunities to this species and provide researchers with needed biological data, while allowing the population to continue to rebuild and excluding harvest from areas of heavy dive ecotourism. Based on Commissioner direction at the October 2021 Commission meeting, updates to the draft proposal have been incorporated, including new proposed rules to reduce impacts of catch-and-release fishing on goliath spawning aggregations in state waters.
Share your input by attending one of these online workshops.
Jan. 11, 6 p.m. ET
Jan. 13, noon ET
More information about how to participate will be available on the FWC website prior to the webinar dates: MyFWC.com/marine, then clicking on “Rulemaking” and “Workshops.” Those interested in participating can also contact the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 for more information.
Learn more about goliath grouper at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Recreational Regulations” and “Goliath Grouper” under the “Reef Fish” tab.
If you can’t attend a workshop, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments and click on “Workshops” to submit comments. A recorded presentation will also be posted on this page in the future.
Goliath Grouper Description
The Atlantic goliath grouper can grow to lengths of 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and weigh up to 363 kilograms (800 pounds). The species ranges in coloration from brownish yellow to grey to greenish and has small black dots on the head, body and fins. Individuals less than 1 meter (3.28 feet) in length have 3 to 4 faint vertical bars present on their sides. The species has an elongate body with a broad, flat head and small eyes. The lower jaw has 3 to 5 rows of teeth with no front canines. The scales are ctenoid. The dorsal fins are continuous with the rays of the soft dorsal fin being longer than the spines of the first dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are rounded and notably larger than the pelvic fins. The caudal fin is also rounded. The species typically preys on slow moving fish and crustaceans.
Goliath Grouper Habitat
Adult individuals are typically found in rocky reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, and oil platforms. The species can also be found in coral reef habitats, but are much more abundant in rocky reef environments. Juveniles mainly inhabit mangrove environments, but can also be found in holes and under ledges of swift tidal creeks that drain mangroves. Mangroves serve as an essential nursery habitat for the Atlantic goliath grouper and necessitate specific suitable water conditions to nurture healthy, sustained goliath grouper populations. Juvenile goliath groupers may remain in mangrove nursery habitats for 5 to 6 years before leaving towards deeper offshore reef habitats at around 1 meter in length.
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