A limited take of goliath grouper has been approved by officials in Florida, allowing them to be harvested for the first time since the 1990s.
A three-decade long ban on catching and keeping goliath grouper in Florida has been ended, with officials enacting a limited and restricted catch of 200 annually.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to allow groupers between 2 and 3 feet long to be caught and harvested in state waters. Previously, a 1990 ban was installed after the species was given governmental protections.
State officials deemed the goliath grouper's populations numbers to be adequately recovered, enough to allow the 200-fish season. The first season dates will stretch from March 1 through May 31, 2023.
For a chance to keep a goliath grouper, anglers will need to enter a $10 lottery. Those chosen via the lottery will need to pay for the permit: residents will pay $150, while nonresidents will pay $500 for one fish.
There are some additional restrictions put in place, including the fact that only 50 total fish may be harvested from Everglades National Park, the only allowable gear will be hook and line, and anglers must submit harvest and biological information to the FWC.
There are also areas, known to be spawning sites for goliath groupers, that are off limits for grouper anglers. Plus, the spawning season is outside of the dates where harvest is permitted.
Goliath groupers nearly died out in the 1980s thanks to pollution and overfishing. The species is still not allowed to be taken from other state or federal waters.
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