A meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will take place on April 25 and 26 at the Marriott, Fort Lauderdale North, 6650 North Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309; phone 954-771-0440.
On Thursday morning, April 26th, starting at 8:00 AM, the FWC Staff and Commissioner will review and discuss the Goliath Grouper, including biology, stock status, and stakeholder feedback. The Staff is seeking Commission direction on next steps for Goliath Grouper management in state waters, which may include limited harvest. Please note that the time and date of this discussion could change. The FWC meeting agenda, and topics planned can be found on the FWC website here.
You may recall that DEMA favors continuing the current moratorium on harvesting the Goliath Grouper. DEMA has also surveyed members of the Diving Industry and determined that 73% of the divers responding favored continuing the moratorium.
DEMA’s Legislative Advocate Bob Harris, and President Tom Ingram will be in attendance at this meeting to provide DEMA’s position to the Commission. YOUR public comments and input are also needed at this meeting; public comments opposed to lifting the moratorium could help maintain the current status, thereby preventing harvesting of this animal, which is slow to mature and reproduce. There are substantial arguments against harvest, some of which can be found here. Without your public comments, the status of the current moratorium could change, allowing harvesting of the Goliath Grouper for the first time since the 1990’s. If you dive or live in Florida, or enjoy seeing these beautiful creatures unharmed, such a change in the moratorium status could impact your ability (and your customers’ ability) to see these animals.
DEMA will host a free meeting of DEMA Members and Dive Operators on the evening of April 25 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. in the Marriott, Fort Lauderdale North’s private dining room, to discuss strategy for the FWC meeting the next day. Space is limited, and we ask you to RSVP for this meeting by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEMA urges all professional members of the diving community to join DEMA in attending this Commission meeting to offer public comment in favor of maintaining the current moratorium on harvest of the Goliath Grouper. Public comments will be accepted at the end of each meeting day. More diving community voices will be helpful.
For those unable to attend or wishing to submit written comments prior the beginning of the Committee meeting, send your comments to Commissioners@MyFWC.com.