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Florida has a big decision coming up on the chance to catch a really big fish

a postcard from about 1940 shows a row of goliath grouper
Haffenreffer Collection
/
Monroe County Public Library
Goliath grouper were once a popular gamefish, as shown in this postcard from about 1940. They have been protected since 1990.

The public has two chances this week to give input on a proposal to open up goliath grouper for harvest for the first time in more than 30 years.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could give final approval in March to a plan that would allow up to 200 goliath groupers to be caught each year.

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Permits that could cost $500 would be awarded by lottery. Each person could only take one of the massive fish, which can grow to more than 8 feet long and weigh 800 pounds.

Taking goliath grouper would not be allowed from Martin County through the Atlantic waters off the Keys. It would be allowed on the Gulf side of the Keys, including Everglades National Park.

Fishing groups have lobbied for years to re-open the harvest on goliath grouper. Dive shop operators are against the plan. They say the big fish are a major attraction for business and are worth far more alive than dead.

The online workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, and noon Thursday, Jan. 13.

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