For several years now Dr. Angela Collins, with Florida Sea Grant, has been conducting research on the status of the Goliath Grouper. This extremely large member of the Family Serranidae has been of concern to fishermen, divers, and resource managers in south Florida. The harvest of goliath groupers has been prohibited since 1990 but their populations have certainly increased. Once found throughout the Gulf region, they became rare from recreational and commercial harvesting in the 1970’s and 80’s; most of the fish that were encountered were encountered in southwest Florida. Today, their numbers have increased and records of the animal have been logged from Tampa Bay, the Big Bend, and now from the Panhandle region. At this point FWC is not sure whether the numbers have recovered enough to remove the ban from harvesting.
Each year, during the first week of June, Dr. Collins conducts a statewide survey of Goliath Grouper encounters. She is particularly interested in Goliath Grouper sightings in the panhandle. This year the survey will begin this Sunday – June 5 and extend to Saturday June 11. Any diver interested in participating in the survey should contact their local Sea Grant Agent to obtain the official data sheet. These sheets can be scanned and returned to your local Sea Grant Agent – or you can contact them for alternative methods for submitting the results.
We hope local divers will consider helping us with this needed information. These data sheets will be part of the annual assessment of the status of this neat fish. For more information visit the Florida Sea Grant website (https://www.flseagrant.org/news/2016/06/great-goliath-grouper-county-provides-fisheries-managers-stock-assessment-data/).