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FSU biologists fish for reasons behind endangered grouper's comeback
Date:10/6/2011

e for up to 50 years. Learning the average age of the fish in the region should make clearer just how reproductively successful the species has been in the aftermath of the extreme overfishing that occurred in Florida coastal areas during the 1980s which triggered the fishing moratorium on goliath grouper that has been in effect since 1990.

The scientists also will investigate predatory behaviors and migration patterns that could be contributing to population recovery.

What they learn may guide future conservation and fishery management decisions on a wide range of specific issues.

"For example," said Koenig, "a recreational catch-and-release enterprise, the scope and impact of which are currently unknown, has developed despite the moratorium on goliath grouper harvest. There also is considerable recreational interest in harvesting for science and in allowing restricted recreational harvest on a regular basis.

"Another relatively unstudied group with an economic stake in this species is the diving community," he said. "Interest in underwater viewing of unexploited marine populations, especially including large animals such as goliath grouper, is on the rise."

With competing interests to either reopen the goliath grouper fishery at some level or declare the species endangered, Koenig said "the management arena has become politically charged and begs for better scientific knowledge."

Koenig and marine ecologist Felicia Coleman, director of the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory, have studied goliath grouper life history and behavior for nearly 18 years and published a number of papers on the species' biology, ecology and population dynamics. Their findings have demonstrated the importance of protecting mangrove habitat because of its critical value as nursery habitat for juvenile goliath grouper, whose nearshore survival rate affects the abundance of adults in the offshore environment. Koenig and Coleman have worke
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Contact: Christopher Koenig
koenig@bio.fsu.edu
850-697-4139
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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