Big Fish: Goliath Grouper Conservation

The Goliath Grouper, a large fish (sometimes up to 4′ in length!) is the subject of an endangered species debate in the Gulf Coast of Florida. A popular attraction for scuba divers, spear divers and fishermen complain that the population growth of these fish are putting their catches at risk.

The Goliath Grouper has been listed as Endangered by the United States since the early 1990s, which is relatively recent. Experts argue that there is simply not enough data on Goliath Grouper populations to understand if the population is recovered, and if there are enough to start hunting.

This begs the question: should Goliath Groupers be delisted as endangered species?

Which should matter more, conservation priorities or economic considerations for fishing catches?

And what about the economic impact of scuba diving tourism centered on the presence of these creatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean?

To explore these questions, check out the blog entry I wrote for Calypso Divers, an excellent PADI dive shop and training center located in Tampa, FL

Calypso Divers

This article was written and submitted by Stephanie Stefanski.  Please check out her blog on marine conservation.

Epinephelus malabaricus I never thought a fish could be charismatic. Unique, beautiful, strange, awe-inspiring are certainly words I have used to describe fish, but charismatic? Usually such a term is reserved for the most noble, or heart-warming of creatures, such as gray wolves, bald eagles, the giant panda, and humpback whales. However, in light of recent controversy over the endangered status of the Atlantic goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), it is clear that this often-gentle giant has won the title of “charismatic megafauna”.  Charismatic animals are the symbol of conservation campaigns targeted to inspire public concern for the protection of these species, and, more importantly, the entire ecosystem they call home.

In the ocean, these symbols of conservation tend to be whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Alluring photographs of colorful coral reefs filled with…

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