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Michael Souza

Florida Grouper Making A Comeback

By October 28, 2011

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    Scientists look to answer question: "Why?"
    Marine biologists from Florida State University have been collecting new data on the Atlantic goliath grouper. At one time severely overfished, the native species is making a comeback in the southeastern United States after a 21-year moratorium.
    It is still severely endangered everywhere else in the world.
    The three-year study will determine what specific conditions are allowing the population recovery in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The study is of interest to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
    These slow-moving giants can grow to lengths of 9 feet and weight between 400-800 pounds and live for up to 50 years.
    The scientists will tag the fish to study a variety of behaviors and migration patterns. Learning the average age of the fish will tell scientists about reproduction after the extreme overfishing that occurred in Florida during the 1980s. The fishing moratorium on goliath grouper began in 1990.
    Some feel the fishery should be reopened while the government is more reserved, and with good reason.
    Funding for the Atlantic goliath grouper study comes from a $482,000 grant awarded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries Initiative. The research team also includes USF Assistant Professor Christopher Stallings and Associate Professor Debra Murie from the University of Florida.


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