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:fish:One of Florida's largest sea creatures could be fished once again, although it remains critically endangered in many parts of the world. The Goliath grouper, commonly known as Jewfish, has been protected from fishing since 1990 in Florida waters after almost disappearing in the 1980s. Some recreational fishermen have been petitioning the state to re-allow fishing, while researchers say the grouper population is at best just recovering. Proof of potential extinction has been established, but how established are the arguments against continuing their protection?

State and federal researchers in St. Petersburg will debate whether to allow limited fishing as a way to keep tabs on the population. Allowing premature harvesting would most likely undo all efforts to save this near extinct species.

"We're in the research phase," said Lee Schlesinger, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "People should not expect that the Goliath grouper will be open to harvest soon, if ever." Catch limits would be hard to control as is the poaching that is already going on.

Mr. Schlesinger states that the fish take five to six years to reach reproductive age and with the problems the Grouper already faces such as agriculture threatening their spawning grounds and the redirection of water flows the future of the Goliath remains threatened.


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