April 26, 2021

Via email: commissioners@myfwc.com

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Marine Fisheries Department
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

Re:      Goliath grouper

Dear Commissioners,

The board of directors of Last Stand is opposed to any proposal by the FWC to reopen a limited harvest of Goliath grouper. This species has clearly not recovered to acceptable levels, and may never do so as a result of poaching, bycatch mortality and habitat degradation.

The most reasonable proposal by the FWC would be to declare the Goliath grouper an iconic species, like the dolphin, sea turtle and manta ray and prohibit all harvest. The value this fish has to the recreational dive community, along with the high mercury content, makes it a species best suited for non-consumptive use.

Florida is one of the few places in the world where the Goliath grouper can be viewed in clear water conditions. Recreational divers from around the world come to South Florida every year to dive with these large fish, especially during the spawning aggregation months. Economic studies clearly show the highest and best use of the Goliath grouper is for viewing purposes only.

We respectfully ask FWC to reconsider its proposal to reopen any harvest of the Goliath grouper and consider a full permanent closure to all harvest.

For the Last Stand board,

D.A. Aldridge, President