FWC to discuss shark catches and authorization to fish for goliath grouper

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet virtually May 12-13 to discuss a variety of issues critical to the management of the state’s fish and wildlife.

Here are some of the questions the commission should consider:

  • The Sharks: Complaints from recreational and commercial fishermen about sharks taking their catch before they can land them are expected early Wednesday.
  • Jupiter Narrows: Sailing restrictions to slow down motorboats in high traffic areas of Jupiter Inlet, Intracoastal Waterway and Loxahatchee River are expected after Wednesday’s lunch break.
  • Goliath grouper: Allowing a limited and regulated harvest of this fish in state waters, banned since 1990, is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
  • Crimson Tide: The closure of the fishery in southwest Florida and the next steps are expected early Thursday.
Aerial view of Jupiter Inlet

The actions of the committee will vary depending on the stage at which each question is in the rule-making process. The meeting will be webcast and links will be provided closer to the webcast at MyFWC.com.

Prior to the meeting, public comments will be accepted by mail or comment form. During the meeting, public comments can be taken after the discussion on each item.

Sharks: what can be done to get them to take the angler’s catch?

Seven stakeholders – including shark scientists, charter captains, commercial fishermen and marine fisheries managers – will discuss interactions between fishermen and sharks, which was the subject of a debate on the Athletes fight for marine balance The Facebook page.

Captain Patrick Price, a Jensen Beach resident who runs DayMaker charters to Stuart, created the page in August 2020 and moderates it.

Thousands of fishermen from all parts of the state have complained about the problem.

The round table will discuss:

  • Requests to Fisheries Management Agencies to Resolve the Problem
  • Limited research and reports on the issue
  • Results of the FWC online survey of fishermen regarding the types and frequency of predator interactions with their catches.
  • With the plight of some shark species being overfished in some areas, while in other areas, such as eastern Florida, anglers report too much interaction.

The survey was completed by 3,509 private recreational fishermen, 1,166 commercial fishermen and 358 chartered captains / guides, including speedboats. According to the survey, sharks caught 75% or more of fishing trips for 28% of recreational fishermen reporting; 46% of trips by chartered captains and 65% of trips by commercial fishermen.

Goliath grouper: harvesting or protecting?

A stock assessment published in 2017 shows that the numbers of goliath groupers were doing well enough to consider allowing fishermen to capture the gentle giants – one of the largest fish to be found in coastal waters. Overfishing has led to a ban in state and federal waters.

Questions to be discussed include:

  • Population growth is expected to continue.
  • A tailor-made management approach is necessary because of their unique biological characteristics and the widely varying values ​​and opinions of stakeholders on the fishery.
  • The FWC recognizes the role of fish in the ecosystem and allows stakeholders to access the goliath grouper while promoting continued population recovery.
  • A limited and highly regulated harvest would provide additional recreational fishing opportunities consistent with FWC’s management philosophy.
Grouper Horsemen: A serious 250-pound Goliath grouper biomass gathers every October at the bow of the Esso Bonaire wreck off the Martin-Palm Beach County line.  These protected apex predators congregate on the region's reefs each fall to spawn.

The issue has two groups at odds: the scientific research, conservation and recreational diving community versus the recreational fishing and spearfishing community.

Scientists such as Sarah Frias-Torres, Sylvia Earle and Chris Koenig, who have studied goliath groupers, as well as conservationists such as the Cousteau family and diving charter operator Jim abernethy opposed any kind of harvesting of fish.

Anglers who fish some of the wrecks and coastal reefs off the coast of Florida are supporting the harvest of what they have defined as an opportunistic apex predator, just behind sharks, who take their catch, including snapper, snook and even lobster.

The problem will result in a seven-member board appointed by the governor ordering staff to come back with a draft proposal allowing for a limited harvest. Harvesting could be managed in the same way as the tarpon tag or the alligator harvesting program.

The rule will be presented at a future committee meeting before being created. It could take until 2022 if such a rule is enacted.

Large goliath groupers can be caught and released in the reefs in the area between Jupiter and Fort Pierce.

Red Tide Closing: Can We Keep Snook, Trout, and Redfish?

Southwest Florida’s executive order banning the harvesting of snook, trout, and rockfish promulgated in 2019 will expire on May 31. The committee will discuss the way forward.

One option, based on more than 10,000 responses from fishermen on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, is to open up the Bradenton area to the north for harvesting, restoring current state regulations for snook, trout, and sea bass. redfish. The harvest ban would remain from Sarasota Bay south to Gordon Pass in Collier County, just south of Naples, until May 31, 2022.

Ed Killer is TCPalm’s outdoor writer. Receive weekly outdoor news delivered to your inbox by Click here. To interact with Ed, make a friend on Facebook at Ed killer, follow him on Twitter @tcpalmekiller or send him an e-mail at [email protected].

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