DCP Deep Dive: Protecting Goliath Grouper

*Content warning: there are a few graphic images, especially related to the impacts of mercury poisoning. As such, we recommend this presentation for mature audiences.*

TLDR, Links referenced in talk:

FWC 6 October 2021 meeting, with goliath grouper on agenda. Submit public comments here by 5p ET 1 October 2021.

Why any goliath grouper fishery at all is a bad idea here.

Draft rule language here.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s PSA here.

Goliaths in the Stream short film here.

Active petition against goliath grouper fishery here.

In this DCP Deep Dive, Dr. Chris Malinowski, a biologist passionate about conservation of marine and aquatic systems discusses not dolphins, but a fish: the goliath grouper. The Atlantic Goliath Grouper, a large indigenous tropical reef fish, approached local extinction in U. S. waters by the 1980s, as a result of intense fishing pressure. In 1990, federal and state laws intervened to protect this species. The resulting fishery closure allowed limited, slow population recovery in Florida waters and a dive ecotourism industry blossomed. During this special Deep Dive, Chris discusses goliath grouper’s biology, the controversy surrounding its protection, and the drawbacks of re-establishing a fishery including loss of nursery habitat, increasingly destructive episodic events like red tide and cold snaps, and the effects of mercury contamination on fish health and survival, as well as human health implications.

We learned during this webinar (9 Sept 2021) that the commissioners on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (aka FWC) are considering re-opening the fishery to recreational fishers. For folks who want to speak up for the best available science, which does not support opening even a limited harvest for goliath grouper, you can voice this by emailing FWC Commissioners at . You can also submit public comments, for the 6 Oct meeting, by completing this form. PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE DUE FRIDAY 1 OCT, BY 5p ET. Future public FWC meetings on the goliath grouper should be announced at https://myfwc.com/news/.

DCP supports making sure that the science is heard over the misperceptions of a few individuals that are likely driving the pressure to reopen this fishery.

The active, online petition in support of protecting goliath grouper can be found here.

Note that this petition was started in 2018, during the last Commissioner hearing when goliath grouper were still listed as critically endangered by IUCN. They are now listed as “vulnerable.”

You can also read the letter Chris and colleagues wrote to the Commissioners that was signed by prominent scientists and conservationists. This will help viewers further understand the points made during this talk. His website and the letter can be read here.

Chris’ presentation includes the PSA announcement that Jean-Michelle Cousteau made in support of the goliath grouper. This PSA video is also on Chris’ website (see above). You can also follow Chris on Instagram (@conservation.chris).

And, last but not least, you can check out Terramar Productions’ short film, Goliaths in the Stream for a stunning visual representation about these fish, their history, and their plight.

DCP Deep Dives are geared toward ages 14+, but all are welcome. In this presentation, there are a few graphic images, especially related to the impacts of mercury poisoning. As such, we recommend this presentation for mature audiences.


Original Airdate: 9 September 2021