Goliath grouper permit applications open, but not everyone supports open season

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Anglers can apply for one of 200 goliath grouper fishing licenses that will go into effect next March.

The chosen ones will be able to harvest goliath grouper between 24 and 36 inches long. The larger goliath grouper will continue to be protected.

Nearly 70,000 people have signed this Change.org petition against the move, saying they are ethically opposed to fishing species that are not normally used for food.

“It’s like, when are we going to respect these animals just for who they are?” asks Adam Sugalski, CEO of OneProtest.

“Probably the commercial fisherman calling you doesn’t stop like ‘hey, open up some harvest.’ And yes, 200 may not seem like a lot, but we think it’s unethical in our opinion,” he added.

The FWC said in a statement that they believe this small harvest can be sustainable.

“We also look forward to collecting post-harvest data to help inform future management decisions for this species,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood.

“We have a big problem with these fish,” said Tampa Fisherman Capt. Cole Hernandez, who says it’s the larger grouper that are causing problems for fishermen.

“They go out trying to catch their limit of red grouper, grouper, whatever the fish is, and they can’t even get them to the boat because those fish are so aggressive at eating them,” Hernandez said.

Fishermen have until October 30 to apply for permits.

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