FWC votes to continue not to allow fishing for goliath grouper

UPDATE: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Thursday to keep the harvest moratorium on goliath grouper, which has been in place since 1990.

However, the commission did not rule out future talks regarding the issue.

EARLIER STORY

At Boynton Beach Marina, Diver Dan Vollker calls Palm Beach County a prime location for Goliath grouper sightings.

Harvest and possession of the protected species has been prohibited in both state and federal waters off Florida since 1990, according to FWC.

Dan calls them a tourism gem, which is why he is worried about a possible harvest.

"It's like somebody was out brutalizing Bambi," said Volker. "It's not an issue that has to do with tree hugging, it's an issue over we have real tourism dollars."

As for the other side, Michael Rosynack supports a harvest.

"Open up a season," said Rosynack. "They eat up all the fish around there some areas you can't fish there anymore."

FWC says if approved the limited harvest would have been set at 100 fish per year for four years. The harvest could be administered through harvest tags and FWC would charge up to $300 per tag.

Harvest would not be allowed during spawning months (July to September) and money raised through the tagging program would benefit Goliath research. 

Early discussions at the meeting had an overwhelming number of people showing opposition to the limited harvest. Some said more than 60,000 petitions had been signed online voicing their opposition too.

Jim Abernathy a long-time diver said, "We are on a tipping point for this planet, what we do in the next 10 years will predicate the next 10,000.”

Abernathy has built close relationships with the groupers on the reef. He said, "if you were to allow the harvest of these creatures you would be personally be killing some of my friends.”

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