Researchers find risk in reopening Florida goliath grouper fishery

phys.org | 7/7/2015 | Staff
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A review of the iconic Atlantic goliath grouper by a team of Florida State University scientists revealed considerable downsides to proposals to reopen the fishery that has been closed for nearly 30 years.

In Fisheries magazine, FSU researchers explain that though the species has recovered to some extent in Florida waters since the closure, it is still vulnerable to rapid population declines that result from cold snaps and red tides. Those factors combined with the extensive loss of mangrove forests in South Florida—a critical habitat for juvenile grouper—result in an environment insufficient to support a fishery.

Reasons - Goliath - Grouper - Florida - Fishery

"These are a few reasons why goliath grouper in Florida is not a suitable fishery species," said Chris Koenig, a research associate at the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory. "Adult goliath grouper carry heavy loads of mercury in their muscles at levels known to be toxic to humans and capable of producing irreversible brain damage in young people. Basically, they are unsafe for human consumption."

Koenig co-authored the paper with Coastal and Marine Lab Director Felicia Coleman and former graduate student Chris Malinowski.

Koenig - Coleman - Ecology - Recovery - Goliath

Koenig and Coleman have been studying the ecology and recovery of goliath grouper for nearly 30 years. With Malinowski, they examined multiple issues affecting goliath grouper productivity to provide the best available scientific information to resource managers faced with making decisions about whether to reopen the fishery.

Grouper, of which there are 163 distinct species, form an important part of reef communities and a major component of marine fisheries worldwide. In 2017, 462,000 tonnes of grouper were landed. However, the Atlantic goliath grouper, a large tropical fish, hasn't been commercially fished in nearly 30 years. With the goliath...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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