Many fishermen across Southwest Florida say they’re encountering a huge problem on the water: Goliath Grouper are snatching fish right off their lines.
It has been nearly two decades since a fishing ban on Goliath Grouper went into affect but that could change.
Boat captains say these massive fish aren’t just hurting their business – they’re also decimating sea life – and they say it is time to lift the ban.
The message was echoed Thursday in Kissimmee during an FWC Commission meeting. It could be a year, though, before any change is potentially seen.
The problem was captured on video recently in a big way. A video shot from waters off the coast of Bonita Springs went viral showing a caught shark eaten whole by a Goliath Grouper.
Goliath Grouper can weigh hundreds of pounds and they are eating machines.
Mike Kessler has fished southwest Florida waters for nearly 50 years and said the Goliath Grouper population is out of control. He remembers fishing for them long before they were on anyone’s radar, and would go places like ledges and wrecks to find them.
“The population has just exploded since there’s nothing keep it in check.”
In 1990, a ban restricted Goliath Grouper fishing but many say it’s time to lift it.
Over the next year, multiple agencies plan to study the populations. Next September, they could decide if the ban will be lifted.
“To me, I think if we can keep one per boat trip we could maybe catch up to it, and keep the population in check before it gets out of hand.”
Not everybody is against it the ban, though.
At Thursday’s FWC meeting, data showed many sight-seeing divers have favorable views on the fish.
Captains said Goliath Grouper are delicious to eat and if the ban were lifted it would also be good for the local economy.
Researchers will present findings in September of 2015.