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Florida Goliath Grouper Harvest Update

By Becca Hurley | Published On November 15, 2017
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Florida Goliath Grouper Harvest Update

UPDATE: Florida Votes to Uphold Ban on Killing Goliath Grouper

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has postponed delivering the goliath grouper update until 2018. What does that mean for concerned divers and anglers?

scuba diving with goliath grouper

Make your voice heard at


The FWC has reported through email that they will be postponing the presentation and discussion of the possible goliath grouper harvest in Florida until the FWC meeting on Feb. 7 and 8, 2018. The meeting is set to take place in Tallahassee, Florida.

Previously, the FWC planned to provide an update at their upcoming meeting in December, but since their September meeting was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, they have shifted the agenda around for December, and the goliath grouper update will now come in the new year.

If you haven’t been following the controversy in Florida, in short, the state has called upon anglers, divers and members of the public to provide feedback to help the FWC determine whether the goliath grouper population has rebounded enough to allow a limited take season on the species. This would allow anglers who have long complained that goliath grouper are stealing their fish, the opportunity to catch and kill the grouper.

Since goliath grouper were deemed unsafe for consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Health, some divers wonder why this is even up for debate in the first place.

We recently had the chance to speak to Earle at the DEMA Show, held from Nov. 1 through 4 in Orlando, Florida. Her nonprofit organization Mission Blue has been following this issue from the start. When asked to comment on what was happening in Florida, she replied with,

"We have to get the power of the people to overwhelm those who want to kill these creatures. Why would it be fun to kill a creature like that? Once we thought the only good shark was a dead shark, now we know better. Goliath's don't have choices — we have choices."

Sylvia Earle DEMA Interview

Scuba Diving Deputy Editor, Mary Frances Emmons interviews Dr. Sylvia Earle at DEMA 2017.

Becca Hurley

Some divers like Earle and our staff here at Scuba Diving magazine enjoy the opportunity to encounter these giants underwater. There is still a lot of uncertainty and controversy that surrounds this topic. Many Floridians are anxious for the outcome. The FWC facilitated grouper workshops during summer and fall of 2017 to encourage feedback from the public on the topic.

Now that the workshops have ended, the only way to still have your voice heard is through the public comments section on the FWC website. If you would like to provide feedback about why these fish should remain protected (or not), please visit

View our previous coverage here: Should Florida Allow Goliath Grouper Harvest?