DEMA Submits Comments in Favor of Maintaining the Current Moratorium on Goliath Grouper in Florida
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
**Association Supports that Harvest and Possession Should Continue to be Prohibited**
The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) recently submitted comments strongly recommending that the current moratorium on the harvest of Goliath Grouper remain in effect. The comments were submitted by Tom Ingram, Executive Director of DEMA, on behalf of the Association.
While all fisheries issues can have an impact on the diving community, of particular importance at this time is the future disposition of the Goliath Grouper. In 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) considered the possibility of lifting the current moratorium on harvesting Goliath Grouper. DEMA favored continuing the moratorium at that time and continues to oppose changes in the current status of the Goliath Grouper moratorium, which prohibits harvest.
“As an Industry, the diving community supports a balanced approach to the health of aquatic resources and access to those resources,” commented Ingram. “In Florida, the diving community has benefitted greatly from the 20+ year moratorium on Goliath Grouper, which has helped rejuvenate the population of these fish. Until we are assured that the stocks of these important fish are rejuvenated to a sustainable level, we believe that the continuation of the moratorium is important to both the fish and the economics of the diving industry.
DEMA’s comments emphasized:
- Lacking any solid scientific evidence of recovery, Goliath Grouper remain vulnerable to overfishing due to (among a variety of reasons) late maturity and slow growth.
- The opinions of dive-related businesses regarding the current harvesting status of goliath grouper. With FWC’s previous study indicating that 49% of dive centers favor continuing protection, and only 25% of dive centers indicating that allowing the harvest of goliath grouper would help their business, DEMA strongly recommended maintaining the current prohibition on harvesting.
- The interest and draw the Goliath Grouper generates for the local diving community plays an integral part in generating revenue for many small Florida-based diving businesses, tax revenue for the State of Florida and many jobs.
Ingram concluded, “DEMA looks forward to reviewing the latest stock assessments and sharing those with the industry. We hope that the moratorium on harvesting these magnificent fish continues, providing all divers who visit or live in Florida with the opportunity to see them in the wild.”
DEMA urges all professional members of the diving community to attend these meetings and offer public comment in favor of maintaining the current moratorium on harvest of the Goliath Grouper; 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 the support of the Industry, 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 in Florida or live there, such a change in the moratorium status could impact your ability (and your customers' ability) to see these animals.
A meeting of the Gulf and South Atlantic Councils and the Ad Hoc Goliath Grouper Joint Council Steering Committee is scheduled beginning January 7 and ending on January 9 in Key Largo, FL. An agenda for the planned meeting can be seen here. For those unable to attend, or wishing to submit written comments, please submit comments via the following addresses by the meeting dates:
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
Robert Mahood, Executive Director, SAFMC
4055 Faber Place Drive, Ste 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405
Fax: 843.769.4520 (No email provided)
Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
2203 North Lois Avenue, Ste 1100, Tampa, FL 33607
To submit public comments, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
Jessica McCawley: email@example.com
For more information, see the South Atlantic Fishery Management website and the official comments submitted by DEMA.