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FWC takes step toward opening goliath grouper fishery

Florida residents and anglers are one step closer to gaining approval to legally harvest Goliath Grouper off the coast, thanks to a new proposal by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The commission told its staff to draft an initial proposal that would outline specific regulatory guidelines concerning the once-overfished species and potential for harvesting moving forward.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Goliath Grouper was once so overfished in the region, the United States considered placing them under the Endangered Species Act.

For over 30 years now, the species has been protected by a number of agencies, including the FWC, to prevent the catching and keeping practice of the behemoth bottom feeders.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the board of regulators took a monumental step in allowing a proposal to even be considered for the potential of lifting the three-decade-long ban on harvesting the fish.

The proposal would likely allow 100 goliaths to be caught and kept annually during a four-year period in a limited harvest. Other supporters believe a lottery to issue $300-per-week licenses that would permit the winners to harvest one goliath, with proceeds from the license going to the research of the fish.