Why It Matters: Earlier this year, the FWC approved a limited, highly regulated season for some harvest of goliath grouper using population data that showed goliath grouper is no longer subject to overfishing. The current catch-and-release regulations in place are proving to be effective in ensuring healthy goliath grouper populations as well as for providing recreational fishing opportunities. There is no science to support the closure of these popular recreational fishing destinations.
- On November 22, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in opposition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) proposed rule to close three goliath grouper spawning aggregation sites in southeast Florida to recreational catch-and-release fishing from July 15 to October 15 each year.
- During their November 30 – December 1 meeting, the FWC passed a motion to postpone making a decision on the proposed measure until their May 2023 meeting.
- In addition to CSF’s comments, several other conservation and recreational angler-friendly groups, such as the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), weighed in to oppose the proposed closure.
The proposed closure would have affected 3 locations that contain 6 artificial reefs in Atlantic state waters off Martin and Palm Beach Counties, which is a heavily populated region that hosts a large number of recreational anglers throughout the year. Unjustifiably closing these areas to recreational fishing during the most popular and productive times to fish unnecessarily hampers recreational anglers who contributed funding to establish these artificial reefs through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).
In 2021 alone, the recreational fishing community in Florida contributed over $54 million to conservation funding through the ASCF. Therefore, input from the recreational angling community should continue to be considered as the FWC’s staff continues to take stakeholder input ahead of this issue being taken up again in May of 2023.
CSF will continue to monitor the FWC’s proposed fishing closures to these spawning aggregation sites and will stand alongside our in-state and national partners to ensure quality recreational fishing opportunities remain available for Florida’s anglers.